Review: Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT at The Curtain Theatre pays homage to the Bard!

The classic romantic comedy about grief, mistaken identity, and finding love, is now playing at The Curtain Theatre through October 21, 2023.

By: Oct. 01, 2023
Review: Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT at The Curtain Theatre pays homage to the Bard!

Nestled in the heart of Austin, Texas, The Baron's Men seamlessly transported audiences into the enchanting realm of Illyria with their latest performance of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night at The Curtain Theatre. Beneath the open sky, adorned in exquisite period costumes by Lindsay M. Palinsky, and surrounded by the rustic allure of the expertly designed venue by Laura Trezise and Mac Gibson, The Baron's Men delivered a delightful and spirited performance, undoubtedly earning the Bard's approval.

Twelfth Night unfolds with the shipwrecked Viola (Renee Osborn), who, convinced of her twin brother Sebastian's demise (Jimmie Bragdon), disguises herself as a young man named Cesario. Seeking employment in the service of the infatuated Duke Orsino (Michael Pratt), Viola (as Cesario) is assigned the task of presenting Orsino's impassioned plea to Countess Olivia (Lindsay M. Palinsky, portrayed Olivia on Sep 30). In mourning for her brother, Olivia dismisses Orsino's messages but unexpectedly finds herself enchanted by the messenger. Meanwhile, Viola, harboring a secret attraction for the oblivious duke, deftly navigates the intricacies of a triangle of unrequited love and desire, forming one of romantic comedy's most intricately delightful shapes.

A subplot ensues, involving the mischief of Olivia's steward Malvolio (Michael Osborn). Contrary to his foreboding name, Malvolio is not inherently malicious but rather characterized by narcissism, making him an easy target. He unwittingly becomes the subject of a prank orchestrated by a team of Shakespeare's most comically absurd characters: the consistently jubilant Sir Toby Belch (Chris Casey), his companion Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Gene Storie), the playful maiden Maria (Anneliese Friend), and Fabian, the squire (Rylee Ross).

While the story's familiarity and somewhat predictable plot may be apparent, the true beauty of the play shines in its execution. Under the adept direction of Shannon Gibson, the cast skillfully engages the audience from the opening scene, eliciting laughter and applause throughout the evening, even from the younger audience members who appeared to relish this timeless comedy.

Individual performances stand out, with Renee Osborn impressing in the dual role of Viola/Cesario, skillfully navigating the complexities of her character's dual identity. Michael Pratt embodies Duke Orsino with finesse, portraying a young man deeply infatuated and intrigued by the mysterious newcomer. Lindsay M. Palinsky brings Olivia to life in a hilarious portrayal, determined to pursue the man she desires while confidently rejecting the one she doesn't. Chris Casey as the joyful Sir Toby Belch commands the stage with physicality and a booming voice, while Gene Storie's Sir Andrew is endearing and comically foolish. Michael Osborn delivers a tragicomic performance as Malvolio, evoking both sympathy and laughter as he grapples with the consequences of a prank. Anneliese Friend's Maria is wickedly fun, and Rylee Ross as Fabian showcases multiple talents in music and Shakespearean comedy with poise. 

An outstanding performance comes from Jacquelyn Lies as Feste, the Fool, who brightens the stage with impeccable comedic timing and a delightful singing voice. Ms. Lies infuses the character with wit and sassiness, adding a layer of hilarity to the role. The supporting cast further enhances the production with Audrey Renkenberger as Valentine, Julio Mella as Antonio, and Jennifer Fielding as Captain/Officer. 

Twelfth Night transcends its Elizabethan origins, offering timeless reflections on mistaken identities and romantic complexities that resonate profoundly in contemporary society. 

The Baron's Men's rendition of Twelfth Night serves as a testament to the enduring magic of theatre. Through impeccable delivery and nuanced interpretation of Shakespeare's rich comedic text, the company masterfully transports audiences to Elizabethan England and the original Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. The homage to the Bard's comedic genius is particularly noteworthy at the unique venue of The Curtain Theatre, adding an authentic layer to this enchanting evening under the stars.

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From This Author - Sabrina Wallace

Sabrina Wallace is a Drama Desk Winner and Tony Award Nominated Producer (The Prom), Writer, World Traveler, and Leader at a High Tech Giant. She is a strong supporter of Theatre a... Sabrina Wallace">(read more about this author)


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