The Theatre & Interpretation Center takes advantage of the stage in ‘Twelfth Night’

Megan Bounds

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“Twelfth Night,” one of Shakespeare’s more famous comedies, premiered in the Ethel M. Barber Theater on campus this weekend with much success. The performance is a perfect mixture of comedy, profound wisdom and moments of emotion, both due to the actors’ skill and Shakespeare’s masterful writing. The show begins with a shipwreck off the coast of Illyria. Viola, a young woman, is rescued by the ship’s captain and separated from her presumably dead brother, Sebastian. She decides to disguise herself as a boy so she can work for the Duke Orsino, one of the lords of the island. Orsino is madly in love with Olivia, who constantly rejects him, and he sends Viola (now Cesario) to woo her. Olivia instead falls in love with the false Cesario and pursues him insistently. Meanwhile, Sebastian, Viola’s twin and exact likeness, is revealed to be alive, and several cases of mistaken identity ensue. The intricate plot weaves threads of other characters throughout, such as Feste the fool, one of the wisest characters in the play, and Malvolio, who pretends to be wise but is shown to be a fool. Though very little is done to modernize the show or change its interpretation, it is still very easy to connect with the characters because of the play’s universal topic: love, both requited and unrequited. The fast-paced nature of the show is a constant source of entertainment to the audience in its own right, without even considering the direction. However, the director Mary Poole adroitly uses the stage to its fullest and brings the Shakespearean language to life. The actors incorporate physical comedy extremely well, especially in several sword-fighting and dancing scenes, not to mention all of the scenes involving Malvolio in the second half of the play. Although it seems to take the actors a while to get into the show – during the first half, they tend to rush their lines – once they hit their stride, the cast as a whole is very strong. “Twelfth Night” grips the audience’s attention with the constant physical movement of the blocking and the spot-on interpretations of the actors. “Twelfth Night” continues to run through May 20. An extremely entertaining show, it is a perfect way to spend two and a half hours of your weekend. The cast’s collective chemistry and talent mark an excellent ending to the Theatre and Interpretation Center’s year. -Megan Bounds