Twelfth Night;’ A night to remember

By Kendall Neil
April 3, 2003

Alaina Robinson

How do you take an older play and relate it back to the world that we live in today? That was the challenge presented to director Whit MacLaughlin when he took on the task to direct Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night or what you will.”MacLaughlin has a special intrigue for the mid-1950s. With this in mind, he brought this older play to life in a vibrant and more modern setting while keeping the words of Shakespeare intact. Place: Illyria, a town on the seacoast of Italy. Time: 1957: postwar.

One of the most entertaining characters was Sir Andrew Aguecheek played by Scott Drummond. In his first appearance in the play, he rides an electric scooter across the staged boardwalk that overlooks the gleaming ocean, while proudly raising his middle finger high in the air. His goofy and idiotic statements provide the comic relief in the play. He is the typical character that gave the audience enough shock appeal to laugh at his childish antics.

A new interesting spin on the play was the addition of musical interludes sung by Bev Appleton who played the role of Feste, Olivia’s jester or clown. Appleton brought back the classics of Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley and related them to the words of Shakespeare. When the language seemed to be too much to take, the musical sty lings of Appleton brought the crowd to smiles with the familiar tunes and lyrics of the 1950’s.

Steve Tague played the dry humored Malvolio. Throughout the play, he is ridiculed and the butt of people’s jokes. In a society where one would think outsiders such as Malvolio would be helped to try to become the society norm, he is constantly kept outside the circle and merely kept around to entertain the main characters. Tague does an excellent job portraying this bland character.

The play boasts Nancy Boykin who played the part of Olivia, which was her first professional role and Patrick Brinker who played Orsino who is “delighted to be back at the Arden Theatre.” These among others bring this play from the time of Shakespeare to life in a realm of music, lights, color and vibrant energy.

“Twelfth Night or what you will” will be showing until April 13,at the Arden Theatre. For show times and tickets visit

posted to the web by Alaina Robinson

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Kendall Neil

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