By Susan Hennessey
A partnered production between Arvada Center and Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Twelfth Night opens with an ominous thunderstorm which masters the currents of the sea and results in a shipwrecked vessel separating twin siblings, each believing the other has drowned. The thunderous waves of the sea may have stricken a ship, but the havoc that is wreaked on the shore is greatly entertaining with mistaken identities, genders and plot. Brilliant acting keeps a patient pace during the telling of this tale keeping the audience grinning throughout.
It is always a challenge to stage Shakespeare’s different locales due to the inevitable spying that occurs to move the plot along. Act II warrants great praise for Philip Sneed’s direction and clever Scenic Design by Brian Mallgrave volleying mirth amongst Sir Tobey, Aguecheek and Fabian as they watch their device of deceit unfold in Malvolio’s dress and manner believing he is reciprocating the desires of his Countess Olivia for whom he stewards. This Shakespearean banter is hilariously handled with excellence by Jamie Ann Romero’s Fabian, Logan Ernstthal’s Sir Toby and Ian Andersen as Sir Andrew Aguecheek. The prize fool is played with honest vulnerability by Timothy McCracken who commits soundly to his idiocy, making his fateful fall tragically sad. He is so deeply wounded, you feel a little injured yourself.
This comedy ends as it must with the twins uniting, identities exposed and lovers wooed. Twelfth Night is a crowd favorite, balancing three plots woven together with pluck and musicianship from Jake Walker’s Feste. His impish nature should not be mistaken as silly, for his wisdom could have saved several identity mix-ups, and love could have been discovered much earlier, but then you would have missed out on great acting, directing and a delightful evening!