"'Tis not for gravity to play at cherry-pit with Satan." Act III, scene iv
|Shakespeare's Globe Theatre ; November 26, 2003 Chicago|
Reviewed on : 2003-12-02 10:15:00 ; Reviewed by : Margarete Mandry
|Shakespeare's Globe Theatre at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre|
November 26 – December 14, 2003
Some things are always worthwhile. One such thing is a visit to the CST to see the Globe production of 12th night.
Presented in the Elizabethan fashion, this production boasts immensely detailed and accurate period costumes and an all-male cast. To adhere to the spirit of Elizabethan theatre, the female roles are played by men whose makeup and mincing steps help the modern audience with its suspension of disbelief. The pace is brisk and keeps the plot moving nicely.
The sumptuous fabrics and different textures used to build the costumes evoke a more ornate and cumbersome period in which women certainly were hampered by their attire, an almost physical representation of societal strictures and mores. The attention to detail is impressive — from the custom-made shoes, through the hose, brocades, piccadils on doublets, to the ruffs and hats.
The set, by contrast, is a simple wooden backdrop with doors, much like what we are told Elizabethan stage sets were. The addition of electric candles helps set the mood. The house lights are left on, reminding us that the 17th century theatre was more about the text and the acting than about special effects. It also serves to draw in the audience as the characters address us directly and invite us to collude in the charade.
As expected, Mark Rylance gives us an hilarious yet oddly vulnerable Olivia, whose pursuit of love is ridiculous but resonates with loneliness.
Michael Brown's Viola/Cesario is so tenderly presented that her naivete is endearing rather than irritating. The skill with which he depicts her bewilderment at some of the inexplicable masculine habits makes it easy for the audience to enter into this game of make-believe.
Liam Brennan's Orsino, by contrast, is immensely masculine, the only real man in the bunch. Vaguely troubled by his attraction to Cesario, he nevertheless doesn't degenerate into maudlin homophobia.
Timothy Walker's Malvolio is delicious. When he appears cross-gartered in hideous mustard stockings with pea-green satin garters tied in floppy bows, the appalled look on Olivia's face mirrors that of the audience. His finicky ways and lovelorn glances at Olivia makes one squirm.
The antics of the rest of the cast reinforce the wacky silliness of Shakespeare's comic relief scenes. This is definitely a performance not to be missed.
Sir John Gilbert, R.A.,
March 12, 2010
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