Friday, June 19, 2009
Though only a week into previews, Daniel Sullivan's fun, fluid and refreshingly traditional production of Twelfth Night, or What You Will stands as one of New York Shakespeare Festival's most satisfying productions of the past decade. It may come as a surprise to some that Anne Hathaway, playing the lovelorn lady-in-disguise Viola, has stage presence to spare, but she makes one of the most assured Shakespearean debuts I've ever seen. It will come as no surprise that Audra McDonald is an ideal Olivia--her aloofness opening up into positive glee upon meeting Viola, dressed as the page Cesario--or that Raul Esparza registers deeply in the usually one-note role of Duke Orsino. The heart and soul of the production, however, are the brilliant comedians: Julie White's lacerating Maria; Jay O. Sanders' uproarious Toby Belch; David Pittu's hilarious (and remarkably sung) Feste the Fool; and, in what may be the comic performance of the season, Hamish Linklater as the blithering, clueless Sir Andrew Aguecheek. A word to the wise: if you want tickets, I'd start queueing at the crack of dawn. This is going to be a huge hit.