If you’re an avid Shakespeare fan, I’d recommend going to see “Twelfth Night, or What You Will” this week in the Waltmar Theatre, though you might be in for a bit of a surprise when it comes to staging.
For those who aren’t familiar with the play, which is my personal favorite of William Shakespeare’s comedies, it tells the tale of a set of noble twins, separated by a storm and thrown into unknown lands where they are forced to adapt. It’s the story the 2006 film “She’s The Man” was based off of, if that helps narrow it down.
The heroine, Viola (junior theatre performance major Caroline Boyd), presumes her brother, Sebastian (sophomore screen acting major Cristian Guerrero), is dead when she washes up on the shores of mythical Illyria alone, save for a few servants. To avoid facing too many probing questions while she navigates a plan to get back home, she disguises herself as a young man named Cesario and seeks employment in the court of Duke Orsino (sophomore screen acting major Donathan Walters).
Chaos, however, ensues when Orsino enlists Viola to woo the countess Olivia (senior theatre performance major Bethany Bonnaud) for him, but Olivia falls for Viola instead, mistaking her for a man. Boyd and Bonnaud play quite well off of each other, making their cringe-worthy pseudo-romance all the more entertaining.
For me, the twists didn’t come with the plot line, but rather with the way the story was told. Under the direction of associate producer of theatre Thomas Bradac, the 18 actors performed the First Folio edition of “Twelfth Night,” the full version of the text published in 1623. Since it is the full version, it included all of the scenes among supporting characters that I’ve seen left out in other productions and texts. This was by no means a bad thing; in fact, the scenes between Olivia’s drunken cousin, Sir Toby Belch (sophomore theatre performance major Jordan Goodsell), and her milquetoast suitor, Sir Andrew Aguecheck (senior theatre major Kevin Swanstrom) were among my favorite in the play. The two do a wonderful job of bringing liveliness to Shakespeare’s words and incorporating hilarious physical comedy, which successfully keeps the audience captivated.
Additionally, this rendition incorporates more musical numbers into “Twelfth Night” than I’m accustomed to. The sound design and original music, composed by William and Jennifer Georges, fit with the story for the most part, but occasionally made it a little difficult for me to concentrate on the action. The singing, however, was beautiful. There was just a lot going on at once.
Overall, the play was a creative interpretation I’d highly recommend. It’s not completely traditional, but that’s one of the best things about theatre, in my opinion: the freedom to never tell the same story twice.
“Twelfth Night” will continue to run in Waltmar Theatre Feb. 21-23. Student tickets can be purchased online for $15 or for $5 student rush ten minutes before each performance.