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Review: 'Twelfth Night' displays astounding acting, whimsical makeup, creative set design

by Leah Budson
“Nothing that is so is so,” exclaims Feste, a comical jester played by South freshman Max Cooper, summing up the essence of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.”
Alternatively titled “What You Will,” the play is directed by Meghan Kenny, who acts, directs and teaches theatre in the Boston area. The show goes up tonight and will continue through Saturday at 7:30 in the little theatre.
The play, a collaboration with South Stage, begins with booms of thunder and the sound of crashing waves as two twins, Sebastian and Viola, played by freshmen Peter Diamond and Jane Maunsell respectively, clutch to each other on the rocking deck of their ship.
The siblings are soon torn apart by the waves and safely washed ashore, both with the belief that the other is dead.
Upon arrival in Illyria, where the play is set, Viola disguises herself as a man. She is hired as a page of Duke Orsino, played by South senior Ekin Dedeoglu.

Viola’s disguise causes escalating confusion and chaos throughout the plot, creating uncomfortable but hilarious love triangles between nearly all the characters.

During one scene, the audience experiences increasing enjoyment as Viola’s hints at love for the unsuspecting Orsino. Both actors perform impressively, Dedeoglu conveying his dreamy adoration for Olivia, played by South sophomore Jessica Dagg, as Maunsell makes her struggle between concealing her identity and sharing her love apparent.
Olivia, on the other hand, refuses to love Orsino and instead becomes infatuated with Viola, unaware of Viola’s true gender. A twist is added when Malvolio, Olivia’s steward played by South sophomore Andrew Hardigg, falls in love with Olivia.
Amidst this chaos, the audience discovers that Sebastian is not dead, as Viola had thought, and has instead been rescued by Antonio, played by junior Ian Lund.
From Olivia’s flirtatious love for Viola, to Antonio’s subtle display of love for Sebastian and the blind devotion of Malvolio to his mistress Olivia, the cast succeeds in capturing the essence of each relationship.
The set, created by stage crew adviser Michael Barrington-Haber, is outstanding in its creativity and ingenuity. Establishing the setting’s amusement park theme, a brightly colored ramp fills one wall of the little theatre, curved to resemble a roller coaster. The carnival-esque atmosphere emulates the playful and chaotic storyline.
A dunk tank serves as the jail of Malvolio, who is imprisoned due to alleged insanity after a hilarious scene in which he is tricked into acting in a preposterously to please Olivia.
The makeup, designed by costume designer Ruth Talvacchia, delights audience members with its over-the-top colors and shapes. Most impressive is the whimsical beard of Orsino, its swirls echoing the carnival theme of the set.

The play’s four musicians, sophomore Mackenzie Dreese, South sophomore Emma Sander, South freshman Frances Cooke and freshman Molly Dalzell, have dramatic eye shadow matching the color of their sparkling skirts and tops. The four supply pleasant background music during much of the play. The musicians play a variety of instruments, including a ukulele, guitar, tambourine and clarinet. Sometimes, they are accompanied by Feste’s vocals.

Cooper, who plays Feste, weaves in and out of the plot, adding comedic value with his energetic performances. The show concludes with him singing, “But that’s all one, our play is done. And we’ll strive to please you every day.”
The whimsical makeup, creative set design and astounding acting talent will be sure to thrust you into the comedy, confusion and romance that is “Twelfth Night.”

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