“Twelfth Night Or What You Will” – with an all male cast.
“This is how Shakespeare was meant to be seen,” wrote the New York Times critic, Ben Brantley – and he was absolutely right. After more than two centuries of American independence, the Brits have totally captured me once again and made me wholly theirs. What a production!
You will agree if you are lucky enough to secure a ticket to Shakespeare’s comedy celebrating the end of the Christmas season. It is at the Belasco Theater on 44th Street (Caution: Walk very carefully. Elizabethan London had better pavement than NYC currently; I, who am legally blind, had to be carefully hand guided along the dangerous route.)
With brilliant courage and dramatic imagination, the all-male Globe Theater troupe effortlessly transports us back to Elizabethan England. The theater seating had been altered so that our seats were actually stall seats right on stage. Just backless benches with cushions, but perfectly comfortable. It was the closest I’ve been to a play in many years. I could see. I could hear. I could laugh!
The entire production seemed inspired, starting with the costumes and makeup beforehand. The actors dress onstage, many of them being transformed before our very eyes into credible, sexy, and lovely women. Not once during the performance did I disbelieve a female character. Not once.
The Elizabethans did not tolerate females on the stage so this is truly how they saw the play.
The characterizations were great fun and I thought that Mark Rylance, who played Lady Olivia, was particularly brilliant. Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek, indeed the whole crew of clowns, outdid themselves in imbecility. What a wonderful evening we had, laughing at this brilliant rollicking comedy of disguise and confusion.
As we carefully picked our way amid the sidewalk rubble afterwards, there was no question about whether we should come back to see their alternating production, “The Tragedie of King Richard the Third,” with Mark Rylance as the king. Some risks are worth taking.