Delirium in Ilyria
By Roz Friedman
The Hartford Stage is presenting a very unique version of Twelfth Night, a comedy written by William Shakespeare in 1600. The superb and flexible cast costumed by Linda Cho is directed by Darko Tresnjak with a quirky crazy humor that borders on hysteria. But it is the stunningly verdant set designed by Alexander Dodge: Concentric circles of thick grass which covers the entire stage -- that amazes. Separated by small wooden bridges, they provide a playground for the characters to play upon, below and around with surprises galore.
Kate McCluggage, who was so beautiful and brilliant in “Bell, Book and Candle,” is an elegant Viola, the twin who takes on a masculine identity. Stacey Yen is sensual and lovely as Olivia; her suitor, Orsini, is the adorable Lea Cates. Bruce Turk's Malvolio, who suffers, suffers and suffers in yellow tights, is best in show. Michael Spencer-Davis wearing flowing blue robes is the ever energetic Sir Toby Belch. Che Ayende is an excellently spoken Feste, the Harlequin jester. The charming song by Nathan A. Robert that he delivers at the end of the show is truly prophetic. As Feste sings about rain and wind, thunder rumbled and rain poured outside on the night we attended!
The only fault I can find with this production is that when the cast members turned away from the audience, they could not be heard.
Twelfth Night, a joyous romp at the Hartford Stage! THROUGH JUNE 16.
This review first aired on WMNR 88.1 FM FINE ARTS PUBLIC RADIO