|Thursday, July 29, 2004
Shakespeare's Wacky Tale of Love Brings
Crowd to the Park
By Alexandra DeFelice, OAKLAND TRIBUNE
LOVE can be confusing no matter what the circumstances, but a
triangle of romance always promises some extra spice.
As in so many of William Shakespeare's plays, "Twelfth Night"
does not disappoint in the category of love gone crazy. The San
Francisco Shakespeare Festival continues its four-city summer
tour with performances beginning Saturday at the Memorial Park
Amphitheater in Cupertino.
The play tells the tale of a shipwrecked young woman named Viola
(Alexandra Matthew), who disguises herself as a boy named Cesario
to get work and quickly becomes another woman's object of affection.
The woman, a countess named Olivia (Mia Tagano), happens to be
the love interest of Cesario's master, Duke Orsino (Joe Wyka).
The story is filled with double meanings and bizarre twists and
is not always easy to follow. Many families showed up for the
play's opening night in a park across the Bay in Pleasanton and
several parents found themselves having to whisper in their children's
ears to explain what was going on (if they could figure it out
But some scenarios needed no words to entertain the large crowd
that showed up to watch the classic love story unfolding on a
beautifully decorated outdoor stage.
Everyone loves a fool -- especially children -- and those intentionally
simple yet deeply witty funny men are the ones who get our smiles
in this performance under the direction of Kenneth Kelleher.
Sir Toby (Julian Lopez-Morales) is a babbling drunk. No matter
how poor the microphones, he manages to shout loudly enough for
all to hear and to make us chuckle as he prances across the stage,
singing and dancing and not caring what anyone thinks.
The plaid-clad gentleman is entertaining enough on his own, but
a few of his giddy counterparts enhance his act.
First is Malvolio (Jack Powell), who in a subplot also falls
in love with Olivia. Sir Toby and other members of the household
trick Malvolio into believing the countess returns his ardor by
way of a letter that asks him to do the most absurd things. If
for nothing else, Powell deserves credit for the scene that drew
the most roars and applause from the audience, in which he appears
before his love in bright yellow sexy lingerie (thinking this
was her wish).
Pulling all the foolishness together is none other than the classic
Shakespeare fool himself, a clown named Feste (Stephen Klum),
who behind his sarcasm and stupidity is brighter than any of the
people who toss gold his way for a quick chuckle.
Klum is a perfect fool. He exudes confidence in the way he throws
insults at even the highest authorities, makes us laugh with his
musical routines and keeps us watching as he skates around the
stage -- a strange addition to an already wacky premise.
Despite some drawn-out soliloquies and difficulty keeping track
of who's who, this "Twelfth Night" is light-hearted
and fun. It's a great opportunity to bring out a blanket, a picnic
and some wine while enjoying some free Shakespeare.
You can reach Alexandra DeFelice at firstname.lastname@example.org