Put Will Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, or What You Will, in the hands of the junior corps of Twin Beach Players and what do you get? A celebration performed by actors who seem to be playing for the joy of it. The Players’ uninhibited festival of uncertain purpose may be just what Shakespeare had in mind.
As a performance in a carnival spirit, this party is appropriate, given that for Shakespearean England the 12th night after Christmas was occasion for a no-holds-barred, let ’er rip celebration. The title defines the spirit of the play, suggesting that you shouldn’t ask too many questions.
Furthermore, Twelfth Night is the only play Shakespeare christened with a secondary title, What You Will. This permission invites the audience to suspend belief, allowing for the alternating male/female roles of the characters as well as all the madcap twists and turns. In Shakespeare’s time, all parts were played by males because it was considered improper for females to appear on stage.
In Twin Beach’s modern, mixed-sex cast, characters come and go disguised as whichever sex they are not. With the generous use of pasted-on beards and mustaches, we have girls playing the roles of boys who are playing the roles of girls and maybe vice-versa. Who’s who? It’s hard to keep track, but it’s fun.
Here’s who’s who and a simplification of the basics of the complicated plot Will has given us.
Duke Orsino (Samantha Wadsworth) bemoans his miserable existence because his love for Olivia (Katherine Willham) is unrequited. Olivia, mourning the deaths of her father and brother, has sworn not to love any man for seven years. Meanwhile, a ship has sunk in a storm, stranding the ship’s captain (Brianna Bennett) and Viola (Regan Hall), who thinks her twin brother Sebastian (Ana Collins) has drowned in the storm. That’s just the start.
Director Sid Curl moves the setting to a golf course while retaining the Shakespeare dialogue. With an enthusiastic teenage cast of 13 who play the parts of 19 characters (most switching genders all the while), you need to suspend your analytical tendencies.
Sit back and get yourself into the carnival spirit, just as WS intended.
Playing thru July 8 at 7pm FSa; 3pm Su at North Beach Boys and Girls Club, 9021 Dayton Ave., North Beach. $10 w/age discounts: www.twinbeachplayers.com.