Twelfth Night at the Movies

My parents, my daughter and I went to see UW Parkside's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night last night.  Really fun!  They interpreted the romantic and adventuresome land of Illyria as the romantic and adventuresome land of silent film.  Orsino looked and behaved like Rudolf Valentino (hilarious), Feste was done as Charlie Chaplin, And Cesario and Sebastian evoked Harold Lloyd with their round frames and boater hats.   Most amazing of all, the first half of the play was done in black and white!

Granted, it wasn't seamless.  The gray skin tones tended to rub off around shirt sleeves collars and fingertips.  Mouth interiors were still vibrantly pink or red.  But after a few minutes, it actually worked very well.  And the inevitable moment when a character (now embroiled in passions) returns to stage in full blazing color packs a surprising emotional punch.

Of course, it's a college production, so some of the cast was a touch weak... or a touch too strong.  But all of the main characters were really very good.

I especially enjoyed Kenjamin Lafayette as Sir Toby Belch (convincingly fat, drunk and obnoxious despite some borderline prosthetics), Alex Metalsky as Feste (doing a great Chaplin) and Laura Chatrand as Maria (loads of fun as a brusque 1920s dame).  Best of all was Brenda Kempf as Viola/Cesario, who struck a perfect balance between masculine and feminine as Cesario and had the perfect touch when breaking the fourth wall in comedic double-takes).

It's still playing through next weekend.  If you have a chance, go see it!

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