The inspired choice at the heart of this beautiful realization of Shakespeare’s vision in Twelfth Night is the creation of Illyria, the neverland in which Shakespeare set the play. There was no Illyria in Shakespeare’s time, and really had been no such nation since Roman times. Whatever Shakespeare was going for, it was not constricted by any realities contemporary to him. This meant that director Gavin Witt was free in turn to fashion something that in 21st-Century terms would correspond to Shakespeare’s fantasy. And what he presents is a kind of amalgam of the Marx Brothers’ Freedonia and the Warner Brothers’ Casablanca. There are slinky evening gowns you might see at Rick’s Café Americain. There is a hat that echoes a fez. There is an outfit like a Greek soldier’s. Sebastian and Viola wear plus-fours and Norfolk jackets, topped with newsboy hats. The costumes, by designer David Burdick, all fit together and, together with the set by Josh Epstein which suggests a colonnaded white town overlooking the Adriatic (locus of the ancient Illyria), convey a world between the two World Wars. It is at once idyllic and dangerous.
Posts Tagged ‘Center Stage’
Eventually Gil wins the struggle for the right to define his mother’s obsequies. He is handed the urn with her ashes. He has sole custody. But then what? The second half of the play answers that question. It turns out that while Gil doesn’t have the answer, Mo does. It involves a car chase down I-95 and the Cinderella Castle Suite at Disneyland, and a vision of Adelaide dancing in a magical white dress, and fireworks.
It is gratifying that Christopher Durang’s latest comedy, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which is assuredly going to be produced in time by every community theater company in the country, gets its Baltimore premiere in style at Center Stage, as a sort of reference production by which other local ones can be gauged. The show, which rolled out over the last two years in regional test runs, then at the Lincoln Center, and then on Broadway, where it closed last year, is in joint production here with the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. The fun seems effortless; with a solid cast and wonderful direction by Eric Rosen at Center Stage, of course nothing is going to go wrong. But I’m willing to bet it would take a lot of trying to do this well-made play badly; I expect we’ll find out.
Director David Schweizer has employed the unique resources of a professional company to sand down some of the rough edges in the script, in a way smaller companies couldn’t do. Using those resources, he has sneakily transformed a mid-century work of American realism into something fantastical like Midsummer Night’s Dream or As You Like It, and thereby has solved a lot of problems.