Los Angeles Theater Preview: TWELFTH NIGHT (The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles in Santa Monica)

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by Tony Frankel on July 29, 2016

in Theater-Los Angeles


A comedy’s brewing up in Santa Monica. Soon, winds will whip, distressed voices will call out and a ship’s timbers will be shivering, cracking, and smashing against a coastline in Shakespeare’s play about the confusion caused at Countess Olivia’s court by a set of identical brother and sister twins. Two castaways—the lady Viola and the captain—will sputter and make sense of where they’ve landed in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, or What You Will, which opens tonight, July 29, 2016 at Santa Monica College. But get ready for a twist in this new production by the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles, directed by former Royal Shakespeare Company member Kenn Sabberton and performed by a stunning array of well-known actors from stage and cinema.

Drawing from true-life events of the “Great Los Angeles Air Raid of 1942” — a historical incident when many Angelenos believed the city was either under attack by World War II enemies or aliens from outer space — this Twelfth Night is immersed in the sights and sounds of that era, including original music. Sabberton’s interpretation transports audiences to Santa Monica, where everything is turned upside down and nothing is what it seems.

Viola loves Orsino, who thinks he loves Olivia. Olivia thinks she loves Cesario who is really Viola, dressed as a man. Malvolio presumes himself a gentleman and the foolish Sir Andrew believes himself to be a match for the Lady Olivia. And in this production, the romantic Sebastian is actually played by a female actress. With gender-bending disguises at every turn, even the English language is turned upside down. Considering the confused identities generating chaos, Twelfth Night is a true case of the body snatchers at its finest.

This hysteria-based setting will naturally include some of the Bard’s wittiest wordplay, love, pranks and much romantic confusion. Shakespeare’s fleet comedy about passions, mistaken identities and unrequited hankerings only plays through August 21.

Orsino:  Chris Butler
Olivia:  Tracey A. Leigh
Maria:  Kimberly Scott
Sir Toby Belch:  Stephen Caffrey
Malvolio:  Time Winters
Viola:  Therese Barbato
Sebastian:  Connor Kelly-Eiding
Feste:  Fred Sanders
Sir Andrew Aguecheek:  Christopher Rivera
Antonio:  Sheldon Donenberg
Valentine: Dustin Staff

Twelfth Night
Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles
Santa Monica College
Main Stage on the Quad, 1900 Pico Blvd.
ends on August 21, 2016
for tickets and parking, call  213.481.2273 or visit Shakespeare Center

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