Pat Launer, Center Stage on KSDS JAZZ88
July 3, 2015
One line in “Twelfth Night” seems to have inspired the entire production at The Old Globe.
“By the roses of the spring/ I love thee so,” the countess Olivia says to the young man who’s really a young woman in disguise.
Red roses are everywhere in Rebecca Taichman’s stunning, sunny staging. Petals fall from hats doffed and hair unfurled. They’re brought in by the wheelbarrow-full, to clutter a meandering stream upstage.
Though the play ends on a somewhat somber musical note, there’s little darkness here, even in the cruel jest at the expense of Olivia’s supercilious steward, Malvolio . His anger explodes for a moment, and then he’s gone.
This production is all about light and love, hearts and flowers, and falling wildly, passionately into adoration. Of course, there’s confused identity and misplaced affection along the way. And everyone learns a little about temperance and balance in ardor and elsewhere. But it all gets sorted out ultimately, and like any good comedy, especially of the Shakespearean sort, it ends with multiple matchups and marriages.
Taichman and her stellar ensemble seem to be having a ball with the material. The language is expressed with crystal clarity, the humor is broad, physical and often hilarious. The costumes, lighting and music are beautiful.
In a cast of strong performers, several merit special mention: TV’s “True Blood” and “Hannibal” star Rutina Wesley, with her adorably spunky Viola-turned- Cesario ; Sara Topham’s somberly grieving, majestically regal Olivia, who dissolves into a giddy, love-besotted adolescent; Patrick Kerr’s rubber-legged goofball, Sir Andrew Aguecheek ; and multi-talented Manoel Felciano as probably the best Feste I’ve ever seen, a consummate singer, fiddler and wise fool.
The nearly three hours fly by in this fleet-footed presentation. And on opening night, an extra touch of magic brought the evening to a close. Just as Feste started singing “The Wind and the Rain,” a light sprinkle came down from the sky. As they say in theater, and in comedy, ‘Timing is everything.’
“Twelfth Night ” runs through July 26 on the Old Globe’s Festival Stage in Balboa Park.
©2015 PAT LAUNER