- Terelle Jerricks
By John Farrell
Perhaps it’s not quite seasonal, but Shakespeare’s delightful comedy Twelfth Night is really good at any time of the year.
The Bard wrote the play to celebrate the last day of the Elizabethan Christmas celebration, called “Twelfth Night” and marked by a lot of raucous merrymaking including the rule of the King of Fools and servants dressing up as their masters. That tradition isn’t well known, but this play, one of many Shakespearean farragoes that use cross-dressing, mistaken identities and a couple of shipwrecked identical twins to comic effect, is one of his most popular.
In Long Beach Shakespeare’s production, which opened a month-long run last Friday at the Richard Goad Theatre in Long Beach, director Helen Borgers has gathered a delightful cast together, but with one significant difference. The two actors playing the shipwrecked twins Viola and Sebastian usually look a lot alike. Borgers cast Lindsay Zana and Eric Snyder as the twins (They are both shipwrecked in the play but don’t know the other one survived the wreck: hence the confusion.) Zana is a petite brunette who disguises herself as a man when she reaches town. Snyder is a six-foot plus blond who doesn’t resemble Zana in the least, though the play depends on that joke and a few others. That aside, suspension of disbelief can only handle so much.
That said, the play is a lot of fun, from the opportunity to belly-dance with some very attractive young women before the play begins down to the final valedictory from the fool Feste, one of only two people in the play not fooled, confused or blinded by love. Mile Austin has a star’s turn as Feste, and right behind him is the stunning Adrienne Marquand as Maria, the only other sensible person in the work.
Sir Toby Belch, the poor man’s Sir John Falstaff, is also a rich character. And Malvolio (Sean Scofield) is delightful when he stops being a Puritan and dresses in bright clothes for love’s sake.
The play was a little rough opening nigh,t but the cast will settle in as the play progresses, no doubt. You’ll see some very amusing acting and singing in the bargain.
Tickets are $20. Performances Friday, June 1 at 8 p.m., Saturday, June 2 at 8 p.m., Sunday, June 3 at 2 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. through June 30.
Venue: Richard Goad Theatre
Location: 4250 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach
Details: (562) 997-1494, www.lbshakespeare.org