Human Race presents ‘Twelfth Night’
By Brian P. Sharp
The Human Race Theatre Company is gearing up for “Twelfth Night.” A play originally written by William Shakespeare is set, for this production, in the 1920s. Under the direction of Aaron Vega, a Wright State University graduate and the youngest director in the history of The Human Race Theatre Company, the show comes to life. There is illustrious energy and cohesiveness to the cast.
The amazing cast of characters of “Twelfth Night” includes Viola, played by Claire Kennedy – who we have seen in “Lend Me a Tenor” and “Christmas Carol” – is shipwrecked on the shores of Illyria. Then there’s Sebastian, Viola’s twin brother, played by Justin Flagg from the Royal Scottish Academy – who was also presumed dead in the shipwreck.
The Sea Captain/Antonio is played by Matthew Michael Moore of Cedarville. He is a true friend to Viola and Sebastian. Duke Orsino, played by David Dortch, seen in “Blue Jacket,” is in love with Countess Olivia.
Valentine, the Duke’s assistant, is played by Kevin Malarkey, a Yellow Springs resident and a senior at University of Cincinnati’s Conservatory of Music.
Countess Olivia is played by Sara Mackie, a Wright State University graduate. We’ve seen her at the Human Race Theatre Company in “Green Gables.” Olivia is beloved by Duke Orsino and has sworn off love to remain veiled while mourning the loss of her father and brother. Sir Toby Belch, Olivia’s uncle and a boisterous and obnoxious man, is played by Tim Lile, a resident actor at The Human Race Theatre Company.
Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Olivia’s cowardly and timid suitor, is played by John Stamoolis, a Cincinnati Shakespeare resident performer. Malvolio, Olivia’s pompous and arrogant steward, is played by Scott Stoney, a resident actor at The Human Race Theatre Company.
Feste, the jester/clown in Olivia’s service, is played by Christian Duhamel a Wright State University graduate and Maria, played by Jennifer Johansen of Indianapolis is Olivia’s shrewd and practical maid.
And, as a fun little tidbit, Lowell A. Mathwich of the Dayton Ballet is acting as costume designer on the technical side of the production.
The concept of “Twelfth Night” was based on a celebration at the end of the Christmas season. The night was filled with frivolity and merrymaking and was followed by the Feast of the Epiphany. Aaron Vega found a modern equivalent of the merrymaking in the culture of America in 1927 – a period known as the “Roaring 20s.”
The show opens with a shipwreck and twins – Viola and Sebastian – being separated. Are there any survivors? Only the sea captain knows the truth.
We later learn that Duke Orsino, who is courting Countess Olivia, has hired a new page, Cesario. Very quickly, Cesario is taken into the Duke’s confidence and is given the task of assisting the Duke in winning the heart of the Countess. Can the page assist the Duke in wooing the Countess?
At Countess Olivia’s house, her Uncle Sir Toby Belch is being taken to task for his horrible behavior by Olivia’s maid. Sir Toby has brought Sir Andrew to the house to also try to win the heart of his niece, Countess Olivia. The Countess is surrounded by people: Feste the clown – or jester, Malvolio the steward and Maria the maid.
In one of the trips that Cesario makes to the Countess, Cesario realizes that the Countess is attracted to him and is not accepting the Duke’s flirtations. We also realize in that Cesario has feelings for the Duke – and not the Countess. Scandalous!
At the home of the Countess, the merriment continues as does the volume caused by Sir Toby and his friends, and Malvolio is upset. While Malvolio tries to take control of the situation, the tables turn and he is soon the one under control.
The twists and turns continue as do the sword fights. How will it end? Will love prevail? Will the betrayals be known? Will the Countess and the Duke live happily ever after and will it be with each other?
You might just have to pay the Human Race Theatre Company a visit and find out.
“Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them,” is one of the great lines from the show. The same is true about this show. Some have been born great, some of these performers achieve greatness and in the process, the audience does get the greatness thrust upon them. Bravo!
Preview night is January 27. Official opening night is January 28, with performances through February 13. Tickets are available through www.humanracetheatre.org, or by calling Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630
Reach theatre critic Brian P. Sharp by emailing him at email@example.com.