Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay

Twelfth Night
Marin Shakespeare Company
Review by Patrick Thomas | Season Schedule

Also see Richard's reviews of A Streetcar Named Desire and Stale Magnolias

Jeremy Vik, Kathryn Smith-McGlynn
and John Abbot Gardiner

Photo by Lori A. Cheung
There is something delightful about sitting outside on a pleasant summer's evening, sipping wine and watching the sky run through shades of blue as the sun slips below the horizon and one by one the stars form a glittering canopy above your head. It's even more delightful when you have a talented, energetic group of performers tapping into their reserves of silliness and shtick—all in service of your entertainment and enjoyment. This is precisely why Marin residents should hie themselves to the Forest Meadows Amphitheatre for Marin Shakespeare Company's production of Twelfth Night, for director Leslie Currier and her cast have cooked up a chocolate truffle of Shakespearean delights: sweet, satisfying, slightly decadent—and an excellent remedy for depression.

Well, let's say dark chocolate, for there is a streak of melancholy running through the show, which is otherwise one of the Bard's frothiest concoctions, chock-a-block with separated twins, headstrong lovers, clueless nobles, cross-dressing confusion, and a most insightful fool.

In the opening scene, the Duke Orsino is pining for the Lady Olivia, hoping tunes played by his court musicians will quiet his longing: "If music be the food of love, play on; give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, the appetite may sicken, and so die." For Olivia, still mourning the death of her brother a year earlier, refuses all suitors. Meanwhile, on the nearby coast, twins Viola and Sebastian are shipwrecked, each thinking their beloved sibling drowned beneath the waves. Viola takes on the guise of a man, seeking employment in Illyria, leading (natch) to Lady Olivia's falling instantly in love with him/her.

The fun really gets going once Olivia's uncle, Sir Toby Belch, and his drinking buddy Sir Andrew Aguecheek make their appearances. These two—deftly (and hilariously) played by Daren Kelly and Michael J. Hume—bring the waggish aspects of the text straight to the surface. With their comically prominent codpieces flaring in front of them, these two are led by their twin passions (wine and women) to sow chaos wherever they go. Hume's skillful and hysterical portrayal of drunkenness is a highlight of the evening—he's an Elizabethan Foster Brooks. Adding to the fun is a marvelous performance by Jeremy Vik as Feste. A skilled acrobat and juggler, Vik brings a circus flavor to the proceedings, yet blends his athleticism smoothly into his actions, and his interactions with the rest of the cast. Finally, kudos to John Abbot Gardiner for his wonderful portrayal of Malvolio.

Director Currier has done an excellent job of bringing out all the comic silliness of the play and has heightened the joyously ribald nature of Twelfth Night. In addition to the Big Gulp-sized codpieces, there is groping aplenty, copping of feels, tweaking of nipples—and no entendre goes undoubled. Currier was well assisted by costume designer Abra Berman and set designer Jackson Currier, who created moat-like ponds at either side of the stage, as well as spinning walls and hidden elements that make the set as flexible as some of the characters' genders.

While some performances are lacking, the laughs are not, and an evening under the stars is just the ticket for this midsummer night's dream of a show.

Twelfth Night runs through August 21, 2016, at the Forest Meadows Amphitheatre, 890 Belle Avenue, San Rafael. Show times are 8:00pm Fridays and Saturdays, and 4:00pm and 8:00pm on Sundays. Ticket prices are $35 general, $32 senior, and $10 for youth 25 and under. More information is available by calling 415-499-4488 or by visiting

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