Twelfth Night

“Twelfth Night”
a kate west review
by William Shakespeare
at A Noise Within

234 S. Brand Blvd. Glendale
March 19 – May 16 (818) 240-0910

One of William Shakespeare’s most popular and oft-performed works, “Twelfth Night,” is the story of Viola, who is separated from her twin brother Sebastian after a shipwreck, then disguises herself as the loyal male servant Cesario in order to serve the handsome Duke Orsino. We learn early on that Orsino is desperately in love with the beautiful Countess Olivia, who steadfastly and heartlessly opposes the match. Meanwhile, Viola (as Cesario) finds herself in the compromising position of wooing Olivia for her master and realizing she is in love with Orsino, while Olivia, mistaking Viola for a youthful, fine-looking man, falls for the deceptively charming Cesario (Viola).

Confused? No worries. All gets sorted out cleverly in the end in classic Shakespearean style. Viola is reunited with her long-lost twin brother Sebastian, Orsino finds out that Cesario is really Viola and lovingly asks for her hand, Olivia falls for the attractive Sebastian, the thoroughly unpleasant manservant Malvolio gets his comeuppance and the audience rejoices.

As far as this production goes, the versatile and gifted Julie Coffey is quite good as Viola, giving excellent line readings and aptly aiding director Kris Tabori in creating a truly audience-accessible production. J. Todd Adams as Orsino, Robertson Dean as Sir Toby Belch (Olivia’s uncle) and Tessa Thompson as Olivia are all equally strong. Cynthia Beckert is the subtle, yet mischievous maidservant Maria and Hamilton Camp does a nice turn as the comic relief, playing the ridiculous Sir Andrew Aguecheek, another hopeless suitor to Olivia. Alan Brooks plays a somber, yet delightfully twisted Malvolio and the rest of the cast is fairly strong, especially standout Mark Bramhall, as the sharply intelligent court fool, Feste, who serves as an impish go-between for many of the characters.

Set Designer Trefoni Michael Rizzi creates a generically peaceful Mediterranean-style set and the scenes flow together smoothly. Modern audiences must take all the obvious disguises with a grain of salt, but we are nonetheless entertained by the consummate skill of the Bard and the simplicity of the emotion in the story. It might be fun to see actual identical twins cast in a production of “Twelfth Night,” but barring that, A Noise Within does a fine job of justifying classic mistaken identity. This is a nicely entertaining and likeable production. The perfect light menu for such a hot summer.

Read it:
Twelfth Night (Folger Shakespeare Library)

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