'Twelfth Night'

The Performing Arts Department held their spring production of "Twelfth Night” in the McCormack Theatre from April 16-19. Written by William Shakespeare, the comedy elicited laughs with its dramatic irony, pranks, and its many characters, some of which, who were dragged behind their own passions into trouble.

In “Twelfth Night,” Viola (Cat Roberts), believed herself to be the only survivor of her family’s shipwreck. Having been washed upon the shores of Illyria, Viola disguised herself as a man, ‘Cesario,' and soon began working for Duke Orsino (Ezra Brown).

Orsino has romantic feelings for the Countess Olivia (Alycia Love-Modeste), and the noble sent 'Cesario' in his stead to woo the lady. But the proxy did too good of a job, and Olivia became enamored with Viola/Cesario. To make matters more complicated, the would-be-wingman falls in love with her own boss, Orsino.

About the situation, Viola said, “It is too hard a knot for me to untie!”

Meanwhile, Viola’s twin, Sebastian (Cullan Powers), had also survived the shipwreck and began to make his way through Illyria. This caused confusion, as each sibling is held accountable for actions made by the other.

A sub-plot involved a group of tricksters. Most prominent was the boisterous Sir Toby Belch (Matrid Neli) and the dweebish Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Jonas Maurakas). They, with Maria and Fabiana (Kendra White and Erin Reilly), engaged in revelry and conspired to humiliate Olivia’s steward, Malvolio.

A forged letter had Malvolio (Jeffrey Ruel) compromise his Puritanism, wear yellow stockings, and drove him mad with an unrequited love. Feste the Jester (Miguel Fana) hopped from scene to scene with quips and an open palm, following the gold.

But for ambient lighting that dimmed and shifted from blue-greens to warmer oranges, the set remained the same throughout the performance. There weren’t many props, other than bottles to swig, swords, and guitars. The play and story were carried, most of all, by the acting of the cast.

Standout roles were the leads and points of the love triangle, Viola, Orsino, and Olivia. The most comical character award goes to the shameless Sir Toby Belch. Gauging the crowd's response, the most humorous moment of the play was the prudish Malvolio’s attempt at a smile and the distorted result, although Feste’s impersonation of a priestly incantation was a close second.

In the end, widespread revelations occur for the characters as disguises, ruses, and misunderstandings are illuminated. Maria wrote the forged letter to Malvolio. The man Olivia seduced in Viola’s absence was her twin brother, Sebastian. When the Duke learns Viola is a woman he also learns he is attracted to her. The conclusion of the play, with three marriages, is largely a happy one.

Prior to the showings, director Daniel Gidron said, “I emphasize dealing with the language, speaking the verse and prose, making the language and the situation clear, and enjoying and relishing the challenge of making Shakespeare immediate and understandable without ‘dumming it down.’”

While it is improbable that all the audience understood the full meaning of every Shakespeare line, the choreography of the performance, chemistry of the cast, and the enthusiasm channeled into the acting, ensured that most probably was. UMass Boston’s production of “Twelfth Night” was a successful and enjoyable reminder of the talent of one of the greatest playwrights of all time, as well as a chance for audience members to experience one of his lesser known plays.

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