Orange County Theatre Reviews

Written by Patrick Chavis 

As you become more familiar with Shakespeare’s works, you will soon find different trends and concepts explored more than once in different places. I have always felt Twelfth Night to be the perfect example of this. Twelfth Night is like a late-night paper, the kind a brilliant but procrastinating student writes at the last second to graduate. It’s creative, outside the box, and probably a mixture of three or four old ideas–but who cares because we need to pump out another play, and I want to go to the bar! What makes it even more hilarious, it’s also known under the title What You Will. Shakespeare already knows he’s shotgunning out another play, but you have to admire his “you’re gonna love it because I’m Shakespeare” attitude.

Fullerton Community College’s production of Twelfth Night, directed by Tim Espinosa, is a unique and extremely comical rendition. With masterful stage work, design, music, and direction, we witness a truly professional level throughout a large portion of the production. The minor flaws with line delivery and a lack of energy at lengthily sustained moments are pretty much remedied in this brave new adaptation.

Twelfth Night is the story of Viola(Hailey Detterich) and Sebastian (Cory Chapman), fraternal twins. The twins are separated. Viola thinks her brother is dead and worries about being in a new place she knows nothing about. So she disguises herself as a man to hide her identity. Decked out in a man’s garb, Viola is the perfect match in the appearance of her brother.   As a man, Viola becomes a messenger for Duke Orsino (Antonio Gonzalez-Luna), who is deeply in love with the lovely Olivia (Tatiana Alvarez). When Viola tries to woo Olivia for the Duke, Olivia ends up falling for Viola. The story gets even more complicated when Malvolio (Timothy Bright), Olivia’s steward- a rather straight-laced, self-important, and incredibly comedic character- gets tricked into believing that Olivia has fallen madly in love with him. The play works off of the confusion over both gender misidentification and (of course) love.     

Twelfth Night is a good mixture of theatre and musical, and this production does a great job transitioning between both. Live music is fronted by a three pieces band nestled at the top of the stage, and they do a fantastic job helping the show smoothly transition from zany to serious and back again. The music is fun and modern and matches the intensity on stage. WOW is all I have to say about the stage design and choreography. The costumes and makeup of the dancers make them not only exciting and befitting of their parts but also help them to match and blend in with the set. This is useful since they never really leave the stage. Each dancer looks like spiritual pixies while jumping on trampolines, hanging from flying hoops, and even running into the audience, throwing balls directly at the patrons.

The only time the show lags is during the serious moments during the first act. It just isn’t as fluid, but it picks up later, especially when they’re being comedic. Most, if not all, of the issues, are fixed by Act 2.    

I love the performance of Feste (Tony Torrico) the Clown, and you have to because he’s in most of the play. His comedic timing and flawless enthusiastic singing are a huge part, and it would have stolen the show if not for the laughter prompted by Timothy Bright’s Malvolio. There are chuckles, and then there’s authentic laughter you can’t hold in. Bright causes this much-needed laughter every time he’s on stage. I can’t wait to see what else he does after this show because he’s hilarious. Olivia, played by Tatiana Alvarez, is also talented. She goes from very ladylike to aggressive in an instant. The other actors in the production also delivered good performances but didn’t precisely match Feste, Malvolio, or Olivia’s charisma on stage.

Tim Espinosa’s directed and FCC-produced production of Twelfth Night is a beautiful, thoughtful, laugh-out-loud, funny rendition of the classic play. With a few tweaks, it could be a Broadway-level performance.

Friday, October 16, 2015, at 7:00 pm
Saturday, October 17, 2015, at 7:00 pm

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8.8 Overall
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