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STAGE REVIEW Comedy prevails in 'Twelfth Night'



Published: Sun, August 11, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



This funny story has a fairy-tale ending, proving that all's well that ends well.

MARGARET NERY

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

SALEM -- Shakespeare's convoluted sense of humor was never more evident than in the confusing, amusing chain of events that he wove into the plot as he wrote the comedic play "Twelfth Night"

His merry mix-up of characters and situations was brought to life through the ingenious efforts of the uninhibited members of Stage Left Players of Lisbon who romped giddily through the classic Friday night at Waterford Park

Unequivocally one of Shakespeare's most delightful bits of mayhem, this production is beset with comedic timing, double entendres, amusing confusion and mistaken identities -- but most of all, it is a love story.

The tale begins with a tragedy, a shipwreck from which there are few survivors. Washed up on the shore is a young girl named Viola (Anna Sturgeon) who has apparently lost her beloved brother and all her worldly possessions at sea.

Assuming a male disguise in order to live safely in a strange land, she ultimately takes refuge in the court of Duke Orsino (Jared Mason).

Message of love

Viola is pressed into service as a messenger for the infatuated duke, carrying his love notes to the lovely Olivia (Amanda Murphy). The scenario begins to resemble that of Miles Standish and Priscilla as the lady falls in love with the messenger, unaware he is really a she.

Adding more confusion to the plot, Antonio (Ryan Gillis) has apparently saved Viola's brother, Sebastian (Geoff Barnes), from drowning. And, lo and behold, when the two appear, Olivia mistakes Sebastian for the messenger and showers him with love and kisses. And he in turn is smitten by the charming but aggressive young lady.

However, the duke instead of being depressed, ultimately learns his messenger is really a woman -- a woman he can love. And like in all good fairy tales, the couples apparently live happily ever after.

Devious plot

The subplot to this story of mistaken identities is a slapstick comedy of errors, replete with some underhanded shenanigans by a group of conniving miscreants, Sir Toby Belch (Mark Frost), Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Jordan Brye), Fabian (Spencer Cleland), Feste the Fool (Devon Gentry) and Maria (Kari Lankford).

The rascals devise a devious scheme to discredit Olivio's effeminate but impressionable servant, Malvolio (Dan Haueter). They manage to turn him into a comic but pathetic character and almost drive him mad as they convince him that he is indeed the object of Olivio's affections.

Also portraying characters in Shakespeare's amusing shenanigans are Nathan Price, Christin Price, Connie Price, Dick Fawcett and Kathy Fawcett.

Altogether the confusing sequence of events merely proves that love will prevail and the tangled mess becomes unraveled as the couples find their true loves.

Intent on creating a bit of chaotic fun, Shakespeare apparently not only took pen in hand but had his tongue planted firmly in cheek as he created this tale of deceit, deception and dedication that proves once again that all's well that ends well.

Craig Snay is the director who welds all the parts together into an evening of entertainment that will delight those aficionados who find the bard's works absorbing and entertaining.

For those unfamiliar with the plot, take a lawn chair, warm blanket and bug spray and set back and enjoy the comic aspects of the production while you ponder what "the Twelfth Night" is all about.




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