Sunday, October 26, 2008

Twelfth Night

I couldn't fail to notice Jacqueline van Biene's standout work last year so I can't say I'm too surprised that she's outstanding again. The surprise is that she's at ease in Shakespeare, and that her delightful, layered and always emotionally accessible performance as Viola is this Twelfth Night at T. Schreiber Studios is the kind that will captivate both those who have analyzed every Shakespeare line and those who need help comprehending Bardspeak. The rest of the performers include those who don't seem to understand what they are saying, those who do but don't give the illusion that it is speech, and those who are comfortable with Shakespeare's language and rhythms (with Julian Elfer, as Malvolio, most notably in the last camp despite the lack of other Shakespeare credits in his bio). With the variable degrees of ease among the performers, the directorial concept (which emphasizes whimsy and pulls from both the antique and the modern) doesn't have much chance of taking hold. As is becoming the norm at T. Schreiber Studios, the sets and costumes are astonishingly well-done by off-off standards.

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