Sunday, December 6, 2015


  Olivia (Madison Coppola) with Feste the Clown (Kevin Hilversum)

If Charlie Brown's faithful companion  Snoopy were penning the tale rather than William Shakespeare, the first line would probably be “It was a dark and stormy night.” It's during that stormy night that twins, Viola and Sebastian, are separated at sea and each fears the other has drowned. Washed ashore in Illyria, Viola (Juliana Berse) does what any typical Shakespearean heroine would do: she disguises herself as a male, a page Cesario, and offers her services to the ruler of the land, Duke Orsino.

Such goings on are the delightful fare that make the Bard’s “Twelfth Night” such a mischievous romp.The Connecticut Repertory Theatre on the campus of the University of Connecticut at Storrs will be unveiling its version of this ancient tale, fast forwarded three hundred and sixty years, on the Nafe Katter stage until December 13. Love triangles abound as Viola/Cesario is sent by the Duke to woo the countess Olivia
(Madison Coppola) for him, while Olivia, in mourning for her brother, takes an instant fancy to Viola/Cesario. Of course, Viola is smitten with the Duke (Darren Lee Brown). Sound confusing, just eat a dish of Rocky Road ice cream (from the UCONN Dairy Bar) and hold on to your spoon.

Through further trickery, the countess’ steward Malvolio is seduced into believing his mistress cares for him, and a perfectly wonderful series of scenes have him simpering and prancing to garner her affections. Andrew Ramcharan Guilarte is perfection as the lovesick swain in his cross-gartered yellow stockings. All the undercover skullduggery is accomplished by the comic plottings of Sir Toby Belch (Richard Ruiz), Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Mark Blashford) and the countess’ maid Maria (Arlene Bozich). The gay and witty actions of Feste (Kevin Hilversum) and Fabian (Curtis Longfellow) punctuate this tale of mistaken identity, misguided affections and foolishness. By the time twin brother Sebastian (Jeff DeSisto) and his henchman Antonio (Brian Sullivan) arrive, the gloves are off and the duels are on.

Victor Mang directs this classic comedy where fools and husbands are likened to minnows and herrings, only husbands are bigger. The fine cast leads a splendid parade down Merriment Lane, on an intriguing set of an upside down tree root designed by Brett Calvo, with great lighting by Justin Poruban and clever costuming by Tuoxi Wu.  For tickets ($7-30), call the CT Rep at 860-486-2113 or go online at Performances are  Wednesday - Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Love is concealed and revealed, revered and reviled, accepted and rejected and ultimately happily applauded in this festival play taking place twelve days after Christmas.  Enter into the mischief which runs wild in Illyria as impossible love affairs are entwined in comic conflict that only the master Cupid, Will Shakespeare, can untangle and set right.

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