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Seattle Shakes settles for serviceable Twelfth Night
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Seattle Shakes settles for serviceable Twelfth Night

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Twelfth Night
Seattle Shakespeare Company
Through December 27


Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is one of his classic mistaken identities plays. It starts with a brother and sister who each think the other has been drowned at sea. The sister, Viola - played by Susanna Millonzi with a fresh, modern sensibility - takes on the role of a young boy and a job as a page to Duke Orsino (unfortunately overly foppishly played by Jose A. Rufino). She falls in love with him while he pines for Olivia (Brenda Joyner), and Olivia falls for Viola's boy persona, Cesario. Of course, the brother and sister are twins, so when Sebastian (Tim Gouran) shows up, everyone thinks he's her, and vice versa. It's an old story, and there's no going back and rewriting it at this point.

A major subplot deals with Olivia's main servant, Malvolio (played with imperious delight by John Bogar), who is made a fool of by her woman servant, Maria (Carol Roscoe), her drunken uncle (Ray Gonzalez), his drunken friend (Darragh Kennan), and the jester (Chris Ensweiler). Bogar spices up the role with snatches of operatic solos, which is a nice touch.

This Seattle Shakes production is presented well, and is played primarily for laughs. Some of the funnier sequences include a fun faux swordfight between the drunken fop and Viola, but not all the jokes land on the funny side. It's a serviceable production, but doesn't rise to the level the Shakes is capable of reaching. Millonzi, Bogar and Joyner do particularly well. Sean Patrick Taylor provides nice onstage musical accompaniment, but sometimes distracts rather than adds.

Costumes (Melanie Taylor Burgess), sets (Andrea Bryn Bush), lights (Andrew D. Smith), and fight choreography (Gordon Carpenter) are all done well. There is a nice dance sequence by Jennifer Havlin. Director Stephanie Shine keeps the pacing and the humor rolling along.

The warm-up activities in the lobby and before the play begins give it a festive and fun atmosphere. The audience gets to play a game and get involved, leading to a robust response. The play is not really a Christmas play per se, but songs are sung and toasts are made to the season, so this can be considered a holiday offering.

For more information, go to www.seattleshakespeare.org or call 206-733-8222.

Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.

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