Review: TWELFTH NIGHT At The Broadwater Studio Theater

Playing at The Broadwater in repertory with Foolish Production's MEASURE FOR MEASURE til APRIL 3

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It's a mixed bag.

Notwithstanding that they fell into many textbook Shakespeare traps, and that there was zero chemistry between any single one of the characters, the Foolish Production Company cast actually knew what they were doing. And mostly their 1-hour rendition of TWELFTH NIGHT (playing in rep with MEASURE FOR MEASURE at The Broadwater) is very well done.

TWELFTH NIGHT is considered to be Shakespeare's most, perfect comedy. It is also said to be surprisingly difficult to pull off. It requires a blend of dream and reality, a balance between laughter and pain, and a strong, all-around ensemble. Named for the twelfth night after Christmas, TWELFTH NIGHT plays with love and power.

The Countess Olivia, a woman with her own household, attracts Duke (or Count) Orsino along with two other would-be suitors: her pretentious steward, Malvolio, and Sir Andrew Aguecheek.

Onto this scene arrive the twins Viola and Sebastian who have been recently caught in a shipwreck. Each thinks the other has drowned. So, Viola disguises herself as a male page and enters Orsino's service. Orsino sends her as his envoy to Olivia-only to have Olivia fall in love with the messenger. The play complicates, then wonderfully untangles, these and all the relationships in the comedy.

There were more than a few things I could pick apart - a lack of urgency by some of the actors, dialogs I couldn't decipher - ever, comedic choices that weren't fully committed, and a character so completely at odds with his own persona that he didn't need to be there at all. At least for this iteration. This production's vision leans a bit into sexual ambiguity and gender complexity, issues that are more or less already written into the piece by the author. But oddly, the instances of this whether visual or actionable are fairly insignificant here and don't further that conversation.

As a merry comedy of mistaken identity and unrequited longing, the Foolish Production Company excels in, accessible, over-the-top, hilarity. From the sets to the full use of the cramped black box theater including audience seating, it was all technicolor. Perfectly assembled in its chaotic design from music to pool inflatables, it frankly reminisces of old-school, Lady Bunny Wigstock, drag queen camp. And it's pretty wonderful. In addition, the cast's understanding and use of Shakespeare's language is incredibly good which makes this condensed classic very easy to follow.

As a narrative about the transformative power of love, however, Foolish Production's TWELFTH NIGHT does nothing to fulfill the more real or romantic elements of Shakespeare's original text. It completely lacks emotional resonance and really needs better direction all around. But, for 1-hour of theater, it is a fun day at the beach with the bard.

Written by William Shakespeare

Adapted(Rescripted) and Directed by Mikey Mulhearn

Stage Manager is Jesse Fiene

Costume Designer is Kat Landreth

Cast: Libby Wahlmeier, Nick Molari, Lindsay Mayberry, Sarah Hinchcliff, Katherine Landreth, Zoo Holmström, Hector Miguel, Brandon Doyle

Photo Credit: Foolish Production Co.

Opens Sunday March 19th Through April 3rd, 2023

The Studio at The Broadwater

1078 Lillian Way, Los Angeles, CA 90038

Sunday at 7:30 pm (with Measure for Measure at 9:00 pm)

Mondays at 8:00 pm

Run time: 1 hour with no intermission

Tickets: Click Here


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From This Author - Tracey Paleo

Tracey Paleo is a voting member of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.  She is also the publisher of the arts & culture site Gia On The Move.... (read more about this author)


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