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Twelfth Night – AACT (Guest Review) November 1, 2014

Posted by ronannarbor in Shakespeare, Theatre, Uncategorized.

This guest review is brought to you by Wendy Wright. Thank you, Wendy!

One of the reasons the works of Shakespeare have stood the test of time, are their ability to be shaped and interpreted in many different ways. In Kat Walsh’s production of Twelfth Night at the Arthur Miller Theater for A2CT, the play has been stripped down to the bone which allows the text to take center stage.

The story of Twelfth Night is basically about twins who are separated. The girl twin dresses as a man and has to woo a Countess for a Duke, whom she herself loves. Then the boy twin comes back, they look identical, and there are crazy misunderstandings. There’s also a subplot involving the uncle of the Countess, a cowardly knight and an arrogant servant.

What sets this production apart from other versions I’ve seen was the simplicity and clarity. This is helped in great part by a minimalist set by Nathan Doud and the understated costumes by Liz Getty. A quick glance at the program shows that a large majority of the cast has lots of experience in interpreting Shakespeare’s language, and it shows. It is clear that these actors know what they’re saying and can easily communicate it to an audience.

The roles of Viola and Olivia have some of the greatest scenes in all of Shakespeare and Carol Gray and Kaela Parnicky make the most of them. Parnicky’s Olivia is especially effective in running the gamut of necessary emotions and mining every comedic moment. A new comic duo is born with the combination of Jeff Miller’s Sir Toby Belch and Chris Grimm’s Sir Andrew Aguecheek. They play off of each other effortlessly and provide some of this production’s highlights. The live music is lovely and Feste as played by Dory Mead has a beautiful voice.

Was this the funniest production of Twelfth Night I’ve ever seen? No. But Walsh’s choice to concentrate on the text and the music makes for a very enjoyable and understandable evening. As a director of an upcoming A2CT show, I hope that many of the actors making their A2CT debut return later this season.

Twelfth Night continues tonight at 8pm and tomorrow at 2pm at the Arthur Miller Theatre, UM North Campus. Tickets are available at the door or at A2CT.org.

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