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FringeTO: Twelfe Night or What A Romp...

William Shakespeare's Twelfe Night, or What You Will is one of my favourite plays, so naturally it was on my To See list for this year's Fringe. Then, when director Joshua Stodart revealed on my show that they were presenting the play on a thrust stage, I was sold.

It was a packed house tonight at St. Vlads Theatre, and as the actors tread the boards (literally in this case), there was laughter and applause aplenty. The manipulative triumvirate of Sir Toby Belch (Tim MacLean), Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Matt Shaw) and Maria (Andrea Massoud) with the aid of Feste the clown (Jake Vanderham)  generate mirth with their on point line delivery and physical antics as they plot  mischief against the pompous Malvolio (Tal Shulman. The boisterous drunken "riding" scene, for example, induced belly laughs that filled the house.  As for Tal Shulman's Malvolio: priceless. Fooled into thinking
that Lady Olivia (Hilary McCormack) is in love with him, he makes a complete ass of himself by wearing what he has been led to believe she likes: yellow stockings with cross garters! What a fool! And what a talent is Shulman as he plays the lovelorn suitor to the hilt. The letter reading scene is a piece of theatre I won't forget any time soon.

Hilary McCormack has stage presence from head to toe to finger tips. Even if she wasn't playing a lead role, she would be noticed. She just has that command of the stage. Unfortunately for Peyton Lebarr (Viola/Cesario), she is outclassed by McCormack which means that there is just no believing that Olivia would have any attraction for the girl disguised as a man.  Like Lebarr and her characters, Tayves Fiddis is not credible in his role of Orsino. These two young actors demonstrate a noticeable lack of passion and a weakness of diction that reduces major roles to minor significance. They deliver their lines as if the words are hot potatoes burning their tongues, something to be gotten rid of as quickly as possible. Fortunately, the rest of the cast is so endearingly energetic and engaging that the action moves forward with uproarious success.

One tip I have for director Stoddard, is this: have the actors dress the stage if they find themselves facing someone down stage left. On a couple if key moments, everyone was lined up like soldiers in a diagonal formation which meant my area of the room saw the back of one character and no one else.

Despite the weaknesses I have mentioned, Ale House Theatre's Twelfe Night is a production I highly recommend.

Twelfe Night, Or What You Will
St. Vlads Theatre
http://fringetoronto.com/fringe-festival/shows/twelfe-night-or-what-you-will/

Remaining Shows
July 7, 4:30 pm
July 9, 7:00 pm
July 12, 4:30 pm

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