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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Optimist Theatre Intrigues With Imperfect 'Twelfth Night'

Theater Review

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Optimist Theatre's free “Shakespeare in the Park” returns to a courtyard at Alverno College this month as the company presents Twelfth Night. Much like Optimist's production of The Tempest last year, Twelfth Night is an intriguing if off-balance affair.

The central love triangle in this romantic comedy seems particularly lopsided. Alison Mary Forbes holds up her side with charm and warmth as Olivia, the object of Orsino's affections. But the triangle is weakened by its other two sides, with Robb Smith's Orsino feeling a bit dull and the usually sparkling Georgina McKee delivering an unusually uninspired performance as Viola. Viola tries to win the love of Orsino by pretending to be a boy, but it feels more tired than comic.

While the central conflict is lacking, the ensemble does a brilliant job of delivering a subplot involving a prank played on the emotions of Malvolio (Todd Denning). The conspirators are great fun. Dan Katula makes a powerful Sir Toby Belch, Tom Reed is unerringly precise as Feste, Tom Dillon offers some clever, subtle comic moments as Fabian and Marcella Kearns makes the comedy of Maria shine way beyond what Shakespeare seems to demand for the role.

Optimist Theatre's production of Twelfth Night runs through June 26 at Alverno College's Alumnae Courtyard.
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