The Drilling Company
Bryant Park Shakespeare
July 29, 2017
|Photo courtesy of Bryan Park Shakespeare|
The Drilling Company’s production of Twelfth Night fills Bryant Park with laughter and frivolity. Director Jane Bradley sets her groovy rendition amid the 1960s free-loving sexual revolution. Her eye for detail brings out the romantic comedy in Shakespeare’s bawdy, error filled, classic tale. Her staging and timing keep the action flowing smoothly and the laughs erupting spontaneously. According to her program notes, Ms. Bradley’s goal was to create a setting that is “peculiar, outrageous, and above all else, a delightful escape,” and she gallantly succeeds.
Viola (played by Natalie Smith) washes up on the shores of Illyria after her ship is lost at sea. She disguises herself as a man, Cesario, in order to present herself to Orsino (played by Emmanuel Elpenard), the Duke she remembers as a friend of her deceased father. Orsino takes her in his service and sends her to deliver a message to his love, Countess Olivia (played by Kathleen Simmonds). Olivia, uninterested in Orsino, is madly attracted to Cesario, and begins to pursue him, not realizing he is a she. Meanwhile, her loyal steward, Malvolio (played by Lukas Raphael), is taunted by adversaries in courts, causing him to make a fool of himself to the Countess. When Viola’s twin brother, Sebastian (played by Brandon Reilly), arrives in Illyria, he is mistaken for the disguised Viola, adding mayhem to the identity confusion.
|The cast of Twelfth Night|
Photo courtesy of The Drilling Company
This cast builds relationships that make the production ring true on many levels. Emmanuel Elpenard is romantic, beguiling, and commanding as Duke Orsino. He creates a strong bond with Natalie Smith’s Viola. She is charming and resourceful, and keeps the audience absorbed and engaged throughout the show. Kathleen Simmonds shines in her interpretation of Olivia. She is dark, sexy, and bold, and equally matched by Lukas Raphael as Malvolio. His skill gives him the range to play Malvolio’s serious, egotistical side and then effortlessly hit the comic timing in the later scenes. Jack Socket (Sir Toby), Jarrod Bates (Sir Andrew), Haylee Louise Simmonds (Maria), and Rachel A. Collins (Fabian) deliver the laughs with warmth and heart by building honest camaraderie among their characters. Rachel A. Collins’ physical characterization of Curio, a small role in two short scenes early in the play, is superb. Brandon Reilly and Arif Silverman have a strong chemistry as Sebastian and Antonio that heightens the humor in the final scene as true identities are revealed.
Unfortunately, Twelfth Night only ran for one weekend in Bryant Park. You will, however, have three weekends to see the upcoming production of The Tempest. It opens August 25 and runs Fridays and Saturdays at 7:00 PM through September 9. It will be directed by Lukas Raphael, and is sure to be captivating.
|Photo courtesy of The Drilling Company|
In addition, be sure to see The Drilling Company’s Shakespeare in the Parking Lot production of Henry VI Part 3, directed by Artistic Director Hamilton Clancy. It runs Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:00 PM through Aug. 12 at the Clemente Cultural & Educational Center Parking Lot. Check the website for directions (shakespeareintheparkinglot.com). All these shows are FREE. You have no excuse not to attend.