‘Twelfth Night’: The Comedy and Tragedy of Love

September 10, 2010

Some say “Twelfth Night” is one of Shakespeare’s funniest comedies. Others say it is desperately sad and silly. I say all of the above.

Having neither studied it at school nor read it for pleasure as an aspiring adult, my first thought as I watched the Little Theatre Group’s opening-night performance last Friday was that the drama would not have been out of place in a primary school playground.

Breaking “Twelfth Night” down, you essentially have a story about jealousy, bullying, crossed wires and immature attempts at romance, much like on a playground.

Considering this was opening night, and many of the 13-strong amateur cast’s first attempt at Shakespeare, the performance was a polished one, professionally directed by British arts veteran Nicholas Baker.

The innovative set featured five wooden boxes that were flipped over, to the accompaniment of jazz, onto different-colored sides to mark the change of each act, although the confusing nature of the play made it at times difficult to keep up.

Strong performances from “Drew” as Feste, the caustic fool, from Noel Montagano as Malvolio, the love-struck pompous steward, and from mezzo-soprano Stacy Chamblin as Maria, Olivia’s woman, helped fight off the Friday-night drowsiness that at times threatened to descend on certain audience members struggling to keep up with the pace.

Respect to the Little Theatre Group for tackling a difficult play and managing to present such a multinational cast, who clearly enjoyed working with each other.

While it is not always advisable to look for a moral in the story, one truth is obvious from “Twelfth Night,” and it is one with which perhaps even primary schoolchildren can identify: The pursuit of love can be more frustrating, manic and potentially humiliating than any other human endeavor, and is guaranteed to result in tragedy or salvation.

The play runs through Sept. 27, with showtimes at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays, at the Laurence Olivier Theater at Avenida 2, Calle 28, next to Sara Garbo. For tickets and information, visit www.littletheatregroup.org or call 8858-1446.

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