“Twelfth Night, or What You Will,” one of Shakespeare’s comedies of romantic confusion, is a festive way of ushering in a new theatrical season.
For those of you that have forgotten your Folio or somehow managed to avoid this classic of the Bard throughout your scholastic career, “Twelfth Night” is the comedy that revolves around twin siblings, Viola (Jennie Pines) and Sebastian (Jeremy Kester). Each believes the other is dead after a shipwreck has washed them up on different parts of the Illyrian shore. As Viola disguises herself as male page for Orsino (Michael Lake), an infatuated duke obsessed with the contrary countess Olivia (Sarah Politis), the antics of Sir Toby (Peter Belenchia), Sir Andrew (Craig Moore) and the malcontented and morose servant Malvolio (Kathy Wohlfeld in a clever gender bending performance) offer a comic commentary.
WHERE: Albany Civic Theater, 235 Second Ave., Albany
WHEN: Through Sept. 16
HOW MUCH: $15
MORE INFO:462-1297 or www.albanycivictheater
The Albany Civic Theater’s production, under the steady directorial hand of Juliet King, has a mix of accomplished players, who clearly understand the cadence and rhythms of the text, along with some that are making their stage debut. King does well combining the mix of the experienced and novices in her cast but there are some moments where a few more well-seasoned actors would have pumped up the pace and bumped the words from page to stage with a bit more flourish.
The play’s “Lovers” plot plays quite nicely. Politis, Pines and Wohlfeld combine the text with well rounded characters that provide the right amount of arch and interest. All three manage mini monologues with the right comic touches and emotional connect. Lake’s Duke, and David Cerutti’s Antonio also fold well into the story weaving in solid support.
On the “comic” side? The production could use a bit more belch, cheek and parry to get the Bard’s word to fly. Nick Muscatiello’s smarmy Feste and Jacki Ravida’s lusty Maria have got the right punch and sneer, but their valiant efforts are not quite enough to get this part of the plot to lift fully.
But all that being said, there is an earnestness that pervades the production, allowing most of the imperfections a pass. Most of them. The overreaching efforts by an actor playing one of Duke Orsino’s officers (apparently shipped in from the Glocca Morra leprechaun regiment), delivering a performance that could politely be described as “magically delicious”, is not excusable. Upstaging is a lazy and malicious activity — unless it is artfully done. And usually the actor being upstaged only allows it to happen by mistake — once.
Beth Ruman’s costumes deserve mention as they flatter without fuss and offer a touch that enhances without distraction.
ACT’s production of Twelfth Night is funny with some flaws. You can take of it what you will.