Sunday, March 1, 2020

Margin Notes: Twelfth Night

Photography by Valerie Terranova.
Twelfth Night

Seen on: Thursday, 2/27/20.
My grade: A

Plot and Background
Cast ashore after a shipwreck and mourning her twin brother whom she believes dead, Viola disguises herself as a young man to work for Count Orsino (whom she secretly loves) and delivers love missives from Orsino to Olivia, who finds herself falling for young Cesario/Viola. And we haven't even gotten to Malvolio, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Sebastian! Hamlet Isn't Dead brings its patented playful (and tuneful) bent to this beloved comedy.

What I Knew Beforehand
I've lost count of how many Hamlet Isn't Dead productions I've gotten to see and review over the years, and of course I also know Twelfth Night very well, having seen multiple productions of it.


Play: What a good good night at the theater. This production is a complete and utter delight, from pre-show to curtain call. HID is only getting better, and this is their strongest comedy yet. Their quick and playful style is so well-suited to the humor of the play, from the muttered asides to the live music to the determination to breathe life and energy into the text. Even the cast bios are a riot. Director James Rightmyer Jr. strikes a good balance between the hilarious antics of the clowns and the more poignant pain (and sweet reconciliation) of the two twins separated. I had such a delightfully good time at this show, often laughing embarrassingly loud. Definitely recommend catching this one while you can!

Cast: Twelfth Night is a gem of a play because of how rich it is in meaty roles and comic bits. But that gem only shines with a cast who can make a meal of them. This cast makes a banquet. A few highlights: Drummer Duke Norsworthy hiding his face during the veil scene between Viola and Olivia. Maureen Fenninger's hilariously confused side-eying of both Orsino and Olivia horning in on Feste's rendition of  "Come Away Death." Pretty much any scene between Taylor Harvey's earnest Viola and Stephanie LaVardera's lovesick Olivia. Guitarist David Anthony Hentz's silent reactions to Orsino's repeated slights (honestly Hentz keeps stealing the show without actually undermining the show, which is a neat trick). The mischievously inept-yet-successful trio of Cameron Silliman, Mike Marcou, and Rahoul Roy as Maria, Toby, and Andrew, crawling and rolling around the space during the gulling of Travis Klemm's stuffed-shirt Malvolio. And the Great Comet-style moment of joyful explosion into song and dance during "O Mistress Mine." I kept thinking at various points, and each time about a different performer, "Oh, they're my favorite."

Design: This is the second HID production I've seen use the ground floor space, and they've grown marvelously comfortable with its dimensions and scale. Set designer Rachel Langley gives the space  breath with plenty of exit and entrance points, and lighting designer William Alan Waters hangs the space with strings of lights, adding to a playful festival air, and even finds a (delightful) moment to activate the church space itself. Amelia Dudley's costume design takes HID's traditional costume style--character specific street clothes--and elevates it, particularly with Olivia's transformation from grieving countess to seductive swooner, with Sir Andrew's lilac suit, and with Sir Toby's vividly patterned shirt under a velvet blazer. And can I just say: excellent footwear, all around. I kind of want to steal everyone's boots.


Running: Now playing at The Center at West Park (Hamlet Isn't Dead) - Opening: February 27, 2020. Closing: March 14, 2020.
Category: classical play with music
Length: 2 hours, 15 minutes, including intermission.

Creative Team

Playwright: William Shakespeare
Director: James Rightmyer, Jr.
Designers/Crew: Nicole Amaral (Stage Manager), Megan Necovski (Assistant Stage Manager), Deanna Amaker (Assistant Stage Manager), Michael Fleischer (Assistant Director/Fight Director), David Andrew Laws (Technical Director), William Alan Waters (Lighting), Rachel Langley (Set),  Amelia Dudley (Costume), James Powers (Musical Director), Mahaley Jacobs (Marketing Director), Gracie McBride (Marketing Coordinator), Elizabeth Ruelas (Front of House Manager), Valerie Terranova (Production Photographer).
Cast: Justin Bennett, Maureen Fenninger, Taylor Harvey, David Anthony Hentz, Travis Klemm, Stephanie LaVardera, Michael Luca, Mike Marcou, Joey Mulvey, Duke Norsworthy, Rahoul Roy, Cameron Silliman, Jordon Waters.

Michael Luca and and Jordon Waters as Sebastian and Antonio. Photo by
Valerie Terranova.

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