When you first hear the name "Shakespeare" unless you're a lover of his work like I am you may have flashbacks of your high school English class where you were forced to watch some tired taping of some British guys hammering out lines that you can't understand and dressed in frilly little outfits. You had to fight to stay awake and only remembered enough to ace the test. Well let me tell you something, this is not your English Teacher's Shakespeare performance. Who knew that you could actually attend a Shakespeare play and have fun and even laugh your head off? (Go figure)
A Little Intro
This play deals with the themes of unrequited love, untimely pranks, and mistaken identity. Never a dull moment the play does anything but drag on. This production was set in the frolicking world of The Jazz Age (1920's). The Story (in short) centers around the main character of Viola who is shipwrecked in a strange land and decides to make a living by dressing up like a man and working as a servant to the Duke Orsino. When Viola is sent to woo the Lady Olivia for her employer she is very surprised when Olivia (thinking Viola is a man) falls in love with her instead. That's not the whole play that's just the Cliff Notes version to let you know what's going on. All in all this play is the best performance of Shakespeare that I've ever seen live onstage. From a wonderful revolving set to a wonderful cast with a powerhouse of acting ability. This show starts with a bang and ends on a high note! But let's get into specifics...
What I liked
- The set: This set, designed by the department's new tech director Noel Rennerfeldt, was a wonderful multi purpose set that revolved with each scene meaning that it could give a new atmosphere with every scene. That means it was a multi-tasker and everyone knows how much I like those.
- The setting: In case you don't know every production of Shakespeare is usually transposed to a setting other than what was written. Twelfth Nigh isn't actually set in the Southeast American Coast of the 1920's but for this production we suspend our disbelief and pretend that it is. And this production gave the illusion so well that it seemed like this play has always fit in this setting. It just seemed to "belong" there. That only comes through great production design and good acting so kudos to everyone for pulling it off!
Cast Shout Outs
The play was really helped by superb acting by the entire cast but here is a list of my Fave Five! These guys really rocked it out!
- Anthony Michael (Orsino): One would actually not believe that this guy doesn't have an acting resume as long as his arm. But this guy has only been in a few shows to date and Majors in Business Marketing at APSU. This guy brings a latin flair to the character that can make anybody jealous.
- Anne Winters (Viola): This Girl is a Shakespeare Veteran. She's been in Merchant of Venice, Macbeth, As You Like It, and Midsummer Night's Dream. She plays her par with the confidence and skill of someone who knows The Bard like the expert she is.
- Abigail Elmore (Olivia): This Young Actress makes her debut on the APSU stage with this performance and her superb acting stakes her claim in the hearts of the audience. With her chops you would never know that she's just a freshman. if she keeps building up her skills like this I'd love to see how well she can blow you away as a senior.
- Callum Fedele (Malvolio): As a former student of a the Atlantic Acting School in New York and a New York Native Callum makes his home at APSU for a while and in the part of the comic miser of Malvolio. When so much comedy is happening onstage it's very hard to play the straight man, but Callum plays his part well and with pride.
- Jarvis Bynum (Feste): As hard as it can be to play the straight man in a comedy it can be equally as hard to play the comic relief. Jarvis's mission onstage is to play the singing, dancing, and wisecracking fool of Feste. When you have to be on point all the time onstage and make the audience laugh it may be easy to cave in under the pressure. But Jarvis keeps the rolling in the aisles and enraptured with his dulcet singing voice.
This play is a delight to see and I encourage all of you guys to go if you can. You still have three chances to see all the fun this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 2:00. It's at the Trahern Theatre on the Austin Peay Campus. But get your tickets soon because the last two nights have both had packed houses. Tickets will go fast!