Saturday, October 11, 2008

T. Schreiber Studio's "Twelfth Night"


My first visit to the T. Schreiber Studio last Thursday, with The Quarterback, to watch Cat Parker's production of Twelfth Night, or What You Will. The direction banked on chic, rather than depth, replacing Elizabethan songs with the steampunk music of Cloud Cult, projecting backdrops and stage scenes onto the back screen. The actors were encumbered by the task of filling in a large crossword puzzle in the middle of the stage with words like "melancholy," "love," and "gentleman."

The acting was uneven. Jacqueline van Biene, who played Viola, brought a certain charisma to the performance. Her Viola was intelligent and passionate, qualities which make it even more mystifying how she could fall for the lethargic Duke Orsino. Julian Elfer was a very funny Malvolio; the genius of his performance lay in making him almost tragic. In the cell scene, he was not just pitiable in his deception, but, struggling to remain standing despite his agonizing bewilderment, nearly noble.

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