- OnStage Massachusetts Critic
Lenox MA - In arriving at the Dell-Outdoors at the Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home, to see a 90 minute production of Twelfth Night (that had toured the East Coast this past winter and spring introducing Shakespeare to students), I was unsure what to expect. However, the cast quickly made this performance one of the most enjoyable I’ve attended so far this year. Flawlessly edited by director Jonathan Croy to include the most important pieces of the play, and performed by an incredibly versatile and funny cast, this play surpassed my expectations.
In short, it is a story of loss, love and character mix-ups in the land of Illyria. It begins with Viola mourning the loss of her beloved brother whom she believes to be lost in a shipwreck. The mayhem that follows makes it easy for us to see how Twelfth Night is one of Shakespeare’s funniest and most enjoyable comedies.
The outdoor space allowed for creative use of the trees, grassy hills and interacting with the audience. The simplistic set consisted of colorful fabric hanging on various sized frames that were placed askew to allow for many different entrances, hiding places and quick changes. The costume pieces, designed by Govane Lohbauer, were easy to change in and out of thanks to Velcro in order to accommodate the actors playing multiple roles. In addition to costume changes, many of the actors used various accents and characterizations to further differentiate their characters. Each delivery was very well done.
Overall, the cast had fantastic comedic timing throughout the production and considering the performance space, their ability to time entrances based on others’ lines when they were barely in earshot, is highly commendable. The cast includes Gregory Boover as Feste/Fabian, Colin Gold as Malvolio/Sebastian/Officer, Kaileela Hobby as Viola/Maria, Marcus Kearns as Duke Orsino/ Sir Andrew, Zoё Laiz as Olivia/Antonia, Conor Seamus Moroney as Sir Toby Belch/Priest, and Hannah Gellman & Keondra Walker as Gentlewoman. While each scene and character had their funny moments there were a few that stand out. The trio of Fabian, Sir Andrew & Sir Toby played by Boover, Kearns and Moroney delivered not only precise comedic timing but creative and hilarious physical comedy in their many scenes together. Their facial expressions as they observed or contributed to the chaos around them were completely in line with their characterizations and made their antics even more enjoyable to watch. The slow-motion sword fight was hilarious and incredibly well executed by the cast. Boover’s musical abilities were also utilized during the production. In working closely with the director, he created original melodies to match the lyrics written by Shakespeare for songs like “Come Away Death” in which he sang and played guitar. In Elizabethan England the audience would recognize a “drinking song” sung during a certain part of the show, so the singing of Adele’s “Hello” brought it into the 21st Century and made it even more enjoyable for the audience when the party is broken up by Malvolio who complains about the lateness of the hour while stomping down the hill in his nightgown.
Twelfth Night is a great family show. Though youngsters may not understand all the lines, the cast does a great job of making the play understandable. This production is a good way to introduce Shakespeare to the next generation. That being said, those over 12 would be more apt to understand and appreciate it. Twelfth Night is playing in The Dell at The Mount until August 20th. Bring a comfortable chair, blanket, water and extra sunscreen when attending. Tickets and more information can be found at www.shakespeare.org.
For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/