Review: Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT Proves to Be a Romantic Case of Mistaken Identities at Jobsite Theatre

Onstage through February 11th.

By: Jan. 28, 2024
Review: Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT Proves to Be a Romantic Case of Mistaken Identities at Jobsite Theatre

“One face, one voice, one habit, and two persons...”- Orsino

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them...” -Malvolio

Twelfth Night is a romantic comedy written by William Shakespeare. Its central story revolves around twins Viola and Sebastian who were separated in a shipwreck. Viola (disguised as Cesario) falls in love with Count Orsino, who also happens to be in love with Olivia.

In thinking she is a man, Olivia then falls in love with Viola (Cesario).

On the other hand, in the play’s subplot, Malvolio is convinced Olivia has fallen for him.

Then enters Sir Toby Belch, yet another willful suitor, and pompous uncle to Olivia, and a squire by the name of Sir Andrew Aguecheek. The two men revel and drink and disturb Olivia’s household. Then with the help of two servants, Maria and Fabian, the group set out to seek revenge on Malvolio.  They convince Malvolio that Olivia is indeed in love with him, and therefore convince him to wear yellow stockings cross-gartered, a color and fashion sense Olivia indeed despises, and that he should smile in Olivia’s presence.

Back to the twin’s plot, Sebastian is rescued by Antonio, and as he is dressed exactly like Cesario (Viola), Olivia then asks for his hand in marriage and the two are secretly wed in a church. Viola reveals her true identity and is reunited with Sebastian. In the plays final moments, Viola and Orsino wed.

Twelfth Night comes from the Christian holiday centered around the Eve of the Feast of Epiphany. During such a holiday feasting, revelry, and drinking all took place. Servants would dress up as Masters, men as women, women as men, etc... Malvolio is considered to be Puritan in Shakespeare’s story because much like the Puritans, Malvolio despised the revelry that took place.

Jobsite Theater, Resident theater company of the Straz Center, has once again captured the work of the Bard, truly, in a way only known to Jobsite and its players. No other company embraces Shakespeare the way it is handled by the skill-full workings of the Jobsite Ensemble. I have said it before, and I will continue to say it, “No one rocks the Bard as hard and as relevant as Jobsite and its players.”

David Jenkins and team have done it again, by creating a truly magical evening at the theatre. This tale of mistaken identities, unrequited love, and silly romantic notions is strung together so perfectly and with the addition of musical interludes wonderfully accompanied by Jeremy Douglass making this the perfect date night out.

From top to bottom this cast is exquisite in comedic timing and bravura.

The always exceptional Cornelio Aguilera is wonderful as Antonio, the smooth nature of his delivery and stage presence makes his turn as the Sea Captain and friend to Sebastian a joy to watch.

Giles Davies captures the essence of Count Orsino with perfection. Having last played Malvolio in a previous Jobsite staging of this very show, it was wonderful to see him as the Count. Two things go hand-in hand when one thinks of Shakespeare, especially in the Tampa Bay region, Giles and Jobsite, and no greater a pair has ever met.

As Curio and Valentine, Landon Green and Shaun Memmel, respectively are the attentive and sometimes aloof attendants to the Duke. They equally display great stage presence and are always in the moment from the time they step on stage. Always giving us something to watch, and keeping us guessing throughout their plight, both great additions to the company.

Kathryn Huettel as Fabian is a perfect match as one of Olivia’s servants.  Her antics and unabashed nature especially in moments where the trickery of Malvolio is involved are wonderful to watch. Even the subtle use of the yo-yo gives us an extra layer as to who Fabian is, and it’s great to see her in this arena.

Feste is beautifully portrayed and captured by Roxanne Fay. From the musical interludes showing off her singing abilities to the moments where you’re never quite sure what she is up to, Roxanne is always on 100% and her moment-to-moment exceptionally planned out from start to finish.

As our twins Viola and Sebastian, Noa Friedman and Newt Rametta, respectively, are entertaining and you feel for their plights in every moment. Not only is the casting exceptional here, but the costume work is so calculated to the finest detail, that its almost impossible to tell the two apart onstage.

Standing in for the role of Maria, and for an absent Ami Sallee is Katrina Stevenson. Taking on a role with a 24-hour notice and little to no rehearsal is no small feat. With the support of the cast and crew behind her, Katrina delivers her moments as Maria with gusto. Her moments with Sir Toby Belch are so fun to watch you forget she is even holding a script. Hats off to her, for she moved through with the utmost of ease, and is always a great addition to the company, and exceptional to watch in every moment.

Jared Sellick is the hilarious squire Sir Andrew Aguecheek. His antics with Sir Toby Belch will have you crying with laughter, and his delivery throughout this piece is one to watch.

Nicole Jeannine Smith is our Olivia and plays the part with the utmost bravura. The moments between her and Orsino, and between her and Sebastian are the things only seen in movies. Mistaken identities and mistaken love all intertwined with hilarious moments will make your heart sing.

Standing in for an absent Jim Wicker, is David Jenkins as Sir Toby Belch. His moments of hijinks with Sir Andrew, and his tender moments with Maria are both delivered with great forte. So much so, that the script he holds merely becomes a part of his character. Hats off to him for stepping into the role with 24 hours notice. I will always move mountains to see David Jenkins in any role, and this is one I was truly humbled to experience.

With such an ensemble piece as this is, it would be hard to declare best in show. However, the stunning work presented by Katherine Yacko as Malvolio is something almost other-worldly. Her comedic timing is some of the best work I have seen in some time. The way she travels through the space is as if she takes on another persona and we are just lucky enough to experience it for all its greatness. She truly steals the show in the best way possible and there are times you get lost in her arc alone. I could sit back and watch a show with Malvolio at its center, a one-person show trapped in the mind of Malvolio. What a truly stunning turn, and a grandiose nature delivered here.

Beautifully rendered and captured in all of its Technical brilliance, Twelfth Night is uniquely Jobsite. Set Design by Brian Smallheer, Costumes by Katrina Stevenson, Lighting Design by Jo Averill-Snell, and Composition/Stage Management by Jeremy Douglass all working hand-in-hand to provide a cohesive and well-thought-out world for our characters to reside.

David Jenkins and team have done it again, providing an escape from our everyday lives, and thrusting us head-first into the lives of characters not to un-like ourselves. Taking classic text and flipping it, the way only Jobsite can and truly creating a magical night of theatre. I will always see Shakespeare when Jobsite’s name is attached for we are always privy to something groundbreaking and outside of the box, but always relevant to the time and place in which we currently live. That truly makes all the difference.

Tickets to Twelfth Night can be purchased by visiting the Straz Center’s website at the button below, or by calling the box-office. Onstage through February 11th in the Jaeb Theatre, making this the perfect date night out. So indulge in the revelry, and take a trip to the coast of Illyria, for you’ll be mighty glad you did!

  “What is love? ’Tis not hereafter.

  Present mirth hath present laughter.

   What’s to come is still unsure.

  In delay there lies no plenty,

  Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty.

   Youth’s a stuff will not endure.” -Feste

Photo Credit: Stage Photography of Tampa (spot)