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Theatre Review: Twelfth Night

  

The characters in this Davis Shakespeare Festival production of “Twelfth Night” are hung up on love, talking about it so much that you can’t help smiling at their agony. Sometimes, they even talk about someone else's passion, rather than their own as you can hear in this excerpt from the play.

Click to hear the excerpt

 

Lines like these of Shakespeare's gorgeous language swelling with lofty intent appear throughout this play because the characters seem to fall in love as quickly as you or I might order lunch.

But “Twelfth Night” is also famous for is wild carousing – instigated by Sir Toby Belch, who is Shakespeare’s original party animal. Sir Toby has no interest in books or philosophy, and he certainly doesn’t believe in hard work. For Toby, each day is a new opportunity to pop a cork, and celebrate.

One stoop of wine leads to another, which leads to the inevitable, as we hear a full blown burp from the stage. Shakespeare didn’t call him Toby Belch for nothing. Veteran pro Matt K. Miller is a treat in this role, telling bawdy jokes, organizing pranks and recovering from his daily hangover in time to greet midnight with a song.

Click to hear the excerpt

 

This production features a strong cast, combining professional actors with conservatory-trained talent from around the country. There are also handsome costumes and sets by professional designers, and original music, played live. 

Davis Shakespeare is raising the bar for summer Shakespeare in the Sacramento region, and I do believe that this ambitious little start-up project is maturing into an increasingly polished series that will bear fruit for years to come.

The Davis Shakespeare Festival production of “Twelfth Night” continues through August 2 at the Veterans Memorial Theatre in Davis.