‘Twelfth Night’ a Delightful Romp
Theatre Palisades is to be commended for trying something outside the repertoire of standards that a community theater usually puts on its schedule.
Playing weekends through February 17 is William Shakespeare’s comedy “Twelfth Night, or What you Will.” Between the acting, the songs, swordfights and the staging, it was an entertaining lighthearted romp.
For those who haven’t grown up reading Shakespeare—and I didn’t, when I moved to New York City, I usually read the synopsis before standing in line for free tickets to Shakespeare in the Park, which is held every summer in Central Park. Once I knew the characters, it was easier to understand the language.
“Twelfth Night,” twins Viola and Sebastian are shipwrecked off the coast of Illyria. Each believes the other is dead.
Viola disguises herself as a man and goes to work for Duke Orsino, who is in love with a wealthy countess Olivia.
Viola (Cesario) is sent to meet Olivia to plead the Duke’s case. Unfortunately, Olivia falls in love with Cesario, but to complicate matters even more, Cesario has fallen in love with the Duke.
In the play’s subplot, several people in Olivia’s court, Sir Toby Belch, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Maria and Feste (the fool) give the steward Malvolio a letter that convinces him that Olivia is in love with him. Malvolio follows the instructions of the letter that include wearing yellow stockings in order to win Olivia’s heart.
Viola’s twin brother Sebastian has been recused by Antonio, a sea captain, who had fought against the Duke. When Sebastian meets Olivia, he marries her (Olivia thinks she is marrying Cesario).
According to literary historians, Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” was written in 1601 or 1602 and is reference to the 12th night after Christmas Day. It was a holiday and Christian feast—and an occasion for revelry.
The cast, many of whom are appearing for the first time in Pacific Palisades are solid and handle the complexity of the dialogue ably.
Mark Fields Davidson (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), Jeff DeWitt (Feste) and Ross G (Sir Toby Belch) are well-cast and when on stage, make it hard to take your eyes off them—whether it be the little asides, the facial expressions or the interchanges, the group brings comedy to the show.
At the brunt of their jokes, Philip Bartolf (Malvolia) is perfect with his self-importance and smugness.
Rosie Mandel (Olivia) displays a self-assurance on the stage and handles her role with ease.
As Viola, Sydney Nicole Newman, is the perfect star-crossed lover and her brother Sebastian, Ray Wilson plays exuberance and confusion.
DeWitt, Wilson and Michael Coleman (Fabian) all play guitar or ukulele, which helps support the second part of the play’s title “Or What You Will.” De Witt, who has a lovely tenor voice, sings a beautiful solo.
Director Sabrina Lloyd has directed this comedy with a light hand and good pacing. Everyone on stage looks like they are having fun and that radiates to the audience.
Since, it’s still six months before Shakespeare in the Park—or before Shakespeare is performed at the VA (Tom Hanks), why not go to Pierson Playhouse and welcome the new actors to the “hood?”
Showtimes are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. at the playhouse, 941 Temescal Canyon Rd. Tickets are $22 (seniors and students are $18). Visit: theatrepalisades.org or call (310) 454-1970.