In the season of love and giving, a tale of unrequited love at Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night proves that we all are simply fools and follies when it comes to that lustrous chemistry.
The Space Theater, which is home to DCPA’s production of the holiday favorite Twelfth Night from Nov 15-Dec 22, is the perfect space for the physical comedy that bends gender as much as it does lyrical sonnets. With a theatre in the round experience, no seat is less than supreme as jest and action take center-stage and unveil the ludicrous and delightful romance.
The tale of Twelfth Night is a Shakespearean comedy which sees a twin brother, Sebastian, and sister, Viola, separated after a shipwreck in the majestical and mythological land of Illyria. As each sibling believes the other has perished in the incident out to sea, they are set along two journeys that clumsily overlap.
Viola disguises herself as a man to work in the local household of Duke Orsino, whom she immediately falls for. As they grow closer, the Duke enlists Viola to act as his messenger to try and appeal to his beautiful crush, noblewoman Olivia. As quickly as Viola is granted permission to speak with Olivia, a love triangle unfolds, as Olivia falls in love with the man whom Viola is pretending to be.
Expecting nothing less than complication, foolishness, and wit from the comedic hand of Shakespeare, the cast of Twelfth Night exudes expertise as they navigate through the pleasing plot. Each character is truly captivating and uniquely places emphasis that strands out and plays well with the other elements.
The ensemble cast is dressed to the nines as the DCPA continues to deliver beautiful costumes, and the codpieces are definitely worth mentioning … you can either be thankful for the evolution of fashion or admire them and wonder if we can bring them back.
In addition to era-appropriate wardrobes, the actors were strategically placed throughout the entire Space Theatre. From high ledges and balconies down to drumming and guitar circles on the ground, the group was surrounded by a set that lifts, lowers, expands, and retracts. The engineering of the set is at times as entertaining as the soliloquies, as each scene is transformed for eloquent transportation throughout the town of Illyria.
With jovial dancing and original music by Tom Hagerman of the band DeVotchKa, the story unfolded with energy and excitement that surpassed even the best of traditional Shakespeare.
The comedy truly takes an unexpected and hilarious turn midway through the production when a curious and covert operation is set into motion by several characters who live and work in the house of Olivia. The trio plot a scheme to embarrass a steward of Olivia’s house, Malvolio, who is also head-over-heels infatuated with Olivia. The troupe plays into his vanity and teases him as they send him on a barren hunt for ecstasy, and we hysterically cringe in discomfort as he makes a sad and mortifying display of his adoration.
As Viola and her lost twin Sebastian cross paths once again, the misrepresented identities all come to light, and the tale of Twelfth Night and lends itself to a theme of homoeroticism which was often embraced by the English poet and playwright.
Directed by Chris Coleman, the DCPA’s performance of the seasonal favorite Twelfth Night is truly one for all who admire art, comedy, and the foolish tragedy of falling in love. For tickets and more information about the final weeks of this magical experience, head to denvercenter.org.