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International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Review: Twelfth Night


Through witty banter, physical comedy, and captivating songs, Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of Twelfth Night brings to a new life the forms and intricacies of love crafted by the Bard of Avon.


The original plot of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night follows two twins, Sebastian and Viola, who both survive a shipwreck and set out to rebuild their lives in the fictional country of Illyria, each unaware that the other twin is still alive.


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The versatility of this whimsical world is a great catalyst for a producer’s creativity, and director Ethan McSweeny rises to the occasion with his eccentric modern setting that turns the shipwreck into a plane crash. The initial set is made to look like an airport, which then becomes an airplane as passengers board their flight. The crash happens as Feste (Heath Saunders) appears on the set’s upper level and sings a hauntingly nostalgic song accompanied by his guitar. The scene reaches its climax as pieces of luggage simultaneously drop from the theater’s ceiling onto a now-empty stage.


The scenery is kept simple throughout the whole show. Though it changes as the plot evolves, some key elements of the set, such as a few of the airport’s waiting room seats, remain the same. The perpetual disorder that intentionally reigns on set does not take attention away from the actors’ performance. Instead, it adds to the characters’ confusion as they navigate love triangles and the intrigue of Viola (Antoinette Robinson) and Sebastian’s (Paul Deo, Jr.) mistaken identities.


The acting in Twelfth Night is bold and enthusiastic, but still feels truthful. Many actors’ performances seem over-emphasized in order to stay faithful to their character, but that does not prevent them from communicating authentic emotions. The best example is Malvolio (Derek Smith), who makes a complete fool of himself (yellow stockings clearly weren’t a good look for him) to gain Lady Olivia’s (Hannah Yelland) affection, while still managing to move the audience with his intense expressions of love. There is always a balance in everyone’s acting that keeps the performance energetic, while also raw and real, which is no easy feat.

I adored this production of Twelfth Night, and would recommend this show to entire families, since even though kids might not fully understand Shakespeare, they can still enjoy the bright costumes, busy set, and comedic characters.

By Ester Luna

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