Review by Danny Gaisin
Shakespeare’s delightful comedy about dress-up & misrepresentation has had many imitations… “Yentl”; and the recent T.V. movie of an athletic girl attending a school as her own brother in order to compete, come immediately to mind. Great plot and interesting hypothesis
The challenge with staging old Willie’s original is his eloquence. The lines require emoting; not recitation. Phrasing, appreciating the concept of meter (iambic or otherwise), and projection are requisite and unfortunately- McMaster’s Thespian Company earns an overall failing grade..
From the introductory scene that sets the plot of shipwrecked siblings who become separated, to our meeting the principals involved with the convoluted sub-plots, verbiage is muttered or presented sans inflection, pause or emphasis. Otherwise, the play is fun… but will be a chore for anyone who hasn’t studied (or memorized) all those quotable bon mots.
Madame editor feels that I’m being a little harsh, but having witnessed Brian Dennehy’s ‘Belch’; Stephen Ouimette’s “Aguecheek”; and Ben Carlson, whose Jester set the bar ‘way up; makes this scribe perhaps a little more expectatious. The critical role of the beauteous Olivia is played by Samantha Curtin and her projection sucks! We were in row three yet couldn’t hear any of those powerful statements to her suitors, troops, relatives or entourage. The sex-switching sister is portrayed by Kelly McLaughlin and she’s diametrically opposite. Her projection comes across the footlights, and is accentuated by a descriptive facial expression.
The Andrew &Toby duo are Ben Wimmers and Abdul Shehata; both carry their interpretations way over into the realm of ‘ham’; and for this, blame falls on the director Cliff Murphy. Utter intoxication, like banana-peel slips, is inherently funny, but over-exaggeration defeats the scenario, I pitied them rather than sympathized!
Now the kudos! The weird Duke Orsino is rendered by a delightful Mike Patricelli whose little not-so-subtle hints are hilarious and his vocalizing of Shakespeare’s zingers all hit the target. The bad-guy character is Olivia’s major domo ‘Malvolio; and A.J. Haygarth employs all the little thespian shticks to make him almost an object of empathy. As the plotters screw with his mind, I kind of wanted to shout-out a ‘caveat! The outstanding interpretation belongs to Matt Andaloro who’s clowning, music playing, singing and conning all ring genuine. Gleamy eye-looks towards the audience and his expectant asides are the result of experience and an innate comedic bent?
The set is functional and with just momentary breaks for prop repositioning, the play’s progress runs smoothly, however, the direction is disjointed. Stage managing by Madison Giffen & Sydney Stonier keep the audience’s mind from returning to their epidemic texting, but the background music is a little overpowering during these frequent scene-changing moments. Overall, this effort deserves an audience. The producing aspect is without flaw and Sarah Granger’s managing of the details is nowhere near a Bialystok/Bloom– type disaster. Twelfth Night will be at Robinson Hall until the 24.