Shakespeare Theatre's Twelfth Night

Picasso had his blue period. Rebecca Bayla Taichman is, evidently, currently having her red period. Right now at the Shakespeare Theatre she is following up her enjoyable and visually gorgeous production of Taming of the Shew with an enjoyable and visually gorgeous production of Twelfth Night.

Twelfth Night is the most popular of Shakespeare’s girl-dresses-as-a-boy plays. Viola shipwrecks and lands in Illyria where she decides to dress as a boy and present herself as a servant to the ruler of Illyria, the Duke Orsino, with whom she promptly falls in love. Orsino sends Viola off to plead his case of love to the countess Olivia, who in turn falls in love with Viola. Throw in a few drunken characters, and hijinks ensue.

The production is stuffed full of popular DC actors doing the things they do. Ted van Griethuysen is an appropriately dour Mavolio and Floyd King brings an interesting gravitas to Feste. The stand out in the cast has to be Tom Story’s Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Story is fantastically over earnest as the man who is in very many ways still a child. And he does a mean worm!

But the true star of this production is the design. It is at many times like watching a moving piece of art. Rose petals falling from the sky, the gorgeous Veanne Cox swirls on stage in dress after dress (designed by Miranda Hoffman), a stunning lighting design by Christopher Akerlind, and the sexiest ending this play has ever scene, all in all the production is a feast for the eyes. Which is good and bad.

Unlike my blogging compatriot (yes, we are actually about to disagree on something), I have never been a great fan of this play or its heroine. Samantha Soule does well with the role – she is engaging, funny, and cute as a button. But I’ve never been able to get into Viola. So Rudesby found the visual panache to align with the character of Viola, I found it to detract. I loved watching the staging, but found it made me forget whose play it was.

3 stars
Through January 11th


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