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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

APT's 'Twelfth Night' Stays True to Form

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Early reports painted American Players Theatre's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night in dark and distinctly unfunny colors, an approach that director David Frank also implied in his program notes.

But Frank, seated in Sunday's audience taking notes, may have changed his course after the initial notices. Other than Robert Morgan's largely monochromatic costume and scenic design, Twelfth Night bubbles along much like the Bard's other comedies about vanity, folly and mistaken identities. And the audience, for all its raucous laughter, appeared none the wiser.

The cast members appear to enjoy themselves immensely, particularly veterans Brian Mani as Sir Toby Belch and John Taylor Phillips as Feste, fool of the Countess Olivia (Susan Shunk). As Viola, the center of a cross-dressing love triangle, newcomer Cristina Panfilio brings both energy and nuance to her interpretation. However, it's La Shawn Banks' caricature of the vain Malvolio that may be worth the price of admission.

Twelfth Night
continues through Oct. 7. For ticket information, visit americanplayers.org.