Performing Arts: Twelfth Night at Shakespeare Theatre

Shakespeare Theatre’s annual Free For All reprises Twelfth Night.

By Julie LaPorte

Samantha Soule as Viola and Floyd King as Feste in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s 2008 production of Twelfth Night, directed by Rebecca Bayla Taichman.  Photo by Carol Rosegg.

as Viola and as Feste in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s 2008 production of Twelfth Night, directed by . Photo by .

Continuing a 19-year tradition of providing free tickets to the general public, the Shakespeare Theatre Company is hosting their annual Free For All event, reviving last seasons’ popular production of Twelfth Night, one of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies. Presented by Target and directed by , Twelfth Night will run through September 5.

“One of the major goals of the Free For All is to make Shakespeare accessible to diverse audiences,” said Artistic Director Michael Kahn. “People who have never been to the theatre, people who are unable to pay for tickets or afford a babysitter, young people, students, people on fixed incomes – they all come to experience the magic of Shakespeare, to see how his words and ideas still resonate with us more than 400 years later.”

The play opens as Viola () is washed up on the shores of Illyria after a shipwreck and, believing her twin brother Sebastian to be dead, disguises herself as Cesario and seeks employment in Duke Orsino’s household. Orsino () is in love with Countess Olivia and sends Cesario to act as his emissary. Olivia () is impatient with Orsino’s amorous pursuits, and instead falls in love with Cesario, who by this time has fallen in love with Orsino. Sebastian (), still alive, also washes up in Illyria where Olivia mistakes him for Cesario and the two impulsively marry. When Cesario finds her brother alive, she becomes once more Viola and reveals her love to Orsino.

That is simply the main story. There is a subplot involving Olivia’s Uncle Toby () who is attempting to drink her out of house and home; Sir Andrew (), an effeminate and ridiculous suitor of Olivia’s; Maria (), the meddling, good-natured waiting-gentlewoman; and Fabian (), an rough-mannered servant. Together, these four bring about an intrigue against Malvolio (), an uptight servant who is secretly in love with Olivia. Moving among them all is Feste (Floyd King), a jester whose wisdom and wit provides much of the heart of the play.

This was easily one of the most enjoyable productions I’ve ever seen. The set was beautiful, primarily a wide sloping expanse, a set of double doors off to the left and a table that lowers in from the ceiling when needed. The lighting washed the stage in rich hues of blue, green and red, setting the ambiance for each scene. And during the final half of the play, poster with luxurious close-ups of red roses fill the stage while the floor is covered in red rose petals – the result was breathtaking. The costumes were rich and decadent, beautifully detailed and added to the personae of each character.

There was no weak link in this production. The barbs and witticisms were released from each character as though from a taut bow, received and flung back without hesitation. The timing, the physical comedy, the chemistry between actors – everything was spot on. Several of the scenes that really stood out were when Cesario nearly declares her love for Orsino, when Cesario and Sir Andrew face off in a dual, when Malvolio attempts to woo Olivia and the final scene when everything is revealed.

This production is a must-see. For more information and to enter to win free tickets, visit the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s website.

With
Gregory Wooddell, Christina Pumariega, Randy Harrison, Sarah Agnew, Nancy Robinette, Chuck Cooper, Tom Story, Philip Goodwin, J. Fred Shiffman, Floyd King, , , , , , , , ,

Directed by Alan Paul, set design by , costume design by , lighting design by , sound design by , fight direction by , choreography by .

Rick Foucheux as Sir Toby Belch, Tom Story as Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Floyd King as Feste in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s 2008 production of Twelfth Night, directed by Rebecca Bayla Taichman.  Photo by Carol Rosegg.

as Sir Toby Belch, Tom Story as Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Floyd King as Feste in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s 2008 production of Twelfth Night, directed by Rebecca Bayla Taichman. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

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1 Response

  1. September 9, 2010

    […] Source: Washington Life Magazine (different Viola) […]

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