REVIEW | 'Twelfth Night' Talented TNT cast stages energetic, witty production

The actors ably make their way through the many plot twists and physical humor of Shakespeare's farce.
William Shakespeare's timeless farce, "Twelfth Night," undoubtedly the classic forerunner to the priceless "who's on first" comic routine of Abbott and Costello, opened Friday night at Trumbull New Theatre.
For those who, as students, struggled with the works of the bard but found the writings intriguing, and for the aficionados who revel in the imaginative stories woven by the author, the evening could not have been more satisfying. For others, it was an evening of absorbing, well-acted but perplexing entertainment.
Comedic timing, double entendres, amusing confusion and a case of mistaken identities were combined ingeniously in this gem of a tale that ultimately turned chaos into a love story.
The best way to describe the nonstop action in this mind-boggling farce is by quoting Puck's memorable observation from another Shakespearean production, "What fools these mortals be."
Plot twists: Directed by Al McKinnon, the TNT production was more aptly titled "Twelfth Night; or What You Will." It is the story of a young girl, Viola (Meredith Loux), who dons male disguise and takes refuge in the court of Duke Orsino (Nick DePinto) after being separated from her brother in a shipwreck.
Her deception complicates matters when she becomes the spokesman for the duke in his attempts to win the hand of Olivia (Jennifer Wargacki), the object of his affection. In a strange quirk of events, Olivia ignores the messages and falls in love with the messenger.
Things ultimately get straightened out when Viola's brother Sebastian (James Courim Jr.) reappears and captivates Olivia, and the duke comes to the realization that his handsome young messenger is really a woman he can love.
Slapstick: Interwoven into this tale of two loves is some rowdy slapstick supplied boisterously by Todd Horrell as Sir Toby Belch, and his equally amusing side-kicks, Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Ryan Davis), Fabian (Mike Pilch), and Feste the Clown (Tom Horrell). They are joined in their antics by the equally conniving maid, Maria (Marifrances Conrad).
Whether inspired by jealousy or simply contrived as a cruel joke, the foursome devises an outrageous plan meant to discredit Olivia's dignified servant Malvolio (Ron Book). As the schemers nearly drive him mad, Malvolio becomes a highly amusing but almost pathetic character obsessed with the idea that he is the object of Olivia's affections.
Rounding out the talented, well-schooled cast is Brin Metzendorf as Antonio, a sea captain who befriends Sebastian after the sinking; Curtiss Barron, a sea captain and friend to Viola; and McKinnon and Gary Pedaline as gentlemen of Orsino's court.
Despite the apparent mayhem that prevails throughout the play, "Twelfth Night" is a dramatic combination of comedy and bitterness. It is also a tale of romantic love and familial love that will delight Shakespearean aficionados and hold the attention of theatergoers who enjoy a well-acted production.

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