Sadly I cannot claim to have read Shakespeare’s play prior to watching this production of it, familiar though I was with its famous story line. Yet once again, the University of Dallas drama department has outdone itself, this time with its latest production, “Twelfth Night.”
I was mistaken in thinking they could never top the set from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in fall 2009, what with its pools of water and forest-feel juxtaposed with a metal substructure – quite the contrast.
However, stepping into Margaret Jonsson Theater these days is like stepping right into Illyria. The set seems to have been inspired by the cobblestone streets of Rome – which most of us know and remember fondly – laid in an intricate pattern akin to that of the Eternal City. The replicas of Narcissus and Donatello’s “David” add to the overall authenticity of the play as taking place in this land straight out of classical antiquity.
The costumes were masterfully crafted; those two-way veils worn by Olivia and her attendants were exquisite, “Cesario” and Sebastian’s costumes were the same to a T, and Olivia’s gowns outshone the rest.
What would a play be without actors to make the set, the costumes and the storyline come to life? Undoubtedly, the cast of this rendition of “Twelfth Night” is composed of UD’s finest.
One certainly wouldn’t know Deborah Corpening (Viola/Cesario) was a freshman; she exhibited raw talent, which can be hard to find. Her facial expressions alone said thousands of words. The scene during which Duke Orsino and Viola hold hands (while musician Grace Pham expertly plays the violin for them) shows the complexity of their chemistry, as well as her attraction to him. Though he does not know she is a woman, it seems as if he can sense that she is.
Madeleine Robb as Olivia was an excellent casting decision – her delightful vivacity lit up the stage with every line.
Sirs Toby (Josh Spencer) and Andrew (William Amorella) with Feste the Clown (Joe Mazza) and Maria (Shannon Ryan) made a hilarious quartet in their drunken exploits; however, everyone in the audience seemed to feel sympathy for poor, picked-upon Malvolio (Jonny Wilder), who goes mad by the end of the play.
I won’t spoil any more for you if you haven’t seen it yet, but I suggest you go – you won’t want to miss out. It has comedy, a love story (several in fact), drama, sword fights, music – the package deal.
The play will run until Sunday, Nov. 13, so reserve your tickets with the drama department soon (free for students). I hope to go see it again myself.