Shakespeare comedies are at their best when they embrace the most silly side, and the Old Globe’s Globe For All production of “Twelfth Night” takes that premise and runs with it in a delightfully entertaining way.
This touring production is the fourth annual production of Globe For All, a program aimed at bringing live Shakespeare productions for free to nontraditional venues. The venues this year include a library, military installations, community centers, homeless facilities, and more. This is all done with the goal of bringing a unique theatrical experience to the communities of San Diego that may not have easy access to the theatre.
In the pre-show warm up at the production I attended, at the Otay library, there were teaching artists talking to the audience to help them get prepared for the show. A majority of people knew Shakespeare, but had not seen his works performed. They also asked questions to help the audience relate and understand character motivations, like “Have you ever had a crush on someone but didn’t tell them?”
Because of the traveling nature of this show, it is scaled back in terms of props and sets, but not in talent as this group of players brings the humor with them at the same level as if they were walking the stage in Balboa Park. There are also parts of dialogue and song that are in Spanish, which make a nice touch both in the context of the show and to the audience watching it. It is integrated into the show nicely enough that you don’t lose any context if you don’t speak Spanish.
Now on to the show; Illyria is now a fancy resort town just across the border from Mexico; full of luxury resorts and tourists…not unlike the actual San Diego. Viola (Jennifer Paredes) and her brother Sebastian (Lorenzo Landini) find themselves separated after a shipwreck and Violet finds herself a job and in disguise as the manservant Cesario to the Duke Orisino ( Amara James Aja, who is also the knight Aguecheek).
As Cesario she has to deliver love notes to the beautiful but mourning Olivia (Amanda Arbues), who is not only dealing with a persistent and unwanted suitor, but also her mischievous maid Maria (Suzelle Palcios), Olivia’s rowdy Uncle Sir Toby (Mike Sears) and a Festes, the fool (Kevin Hafso Koppman) who is delighted to help Sir Toby in his mischief.
Paredes is excellent as Viola (and Cesario), Aja is noble as the Duke, but really shines as the clueless knight Aguecheek. Mike Sears is a hilarious as the drunken reveler Sir Toby; Koppman is delightful a Festes (and a great guitarist), and Palacios is great as Maria, their co-conspirator. Arbues more than holds her own as the noblewoman Olivia who has to deal with all of this craziness. Lorenzo Landini, Christina Okolo, and Ajinkya Desai round out this talented cast with their strong performances as well.
Another nice perk to this show were the amount of kids in the audience, ranging in ages from toddler to late teens who were thoroughly captured by the performance. The actors could pick them out of the crowd, and some directed lines at them causing two girls in our audience to break down into giggles every time. But I am 1000% sure those kids will find a way back to the theatre because of it.
Playing through November 18th, this is a creative show that you don’t want to miss!
Sunday, November 12 | 12:30 p.m. Refreshments, 1:00 p.m. Show
San Diego Public Library, Central Branch
330 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101
Wednesday, November 15 | 7:00 p.m.
Naval Base San Diego
Anchors Catering & Conference Center Main & Yama Street, 2375 Recreation Way, Bldg 3210, San Diego, CA 92136
Friday, November 17 | 5:30 p.m. Dinner, 7:00 p.m. Show
A Reason to Survive (ARTS)
Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, 140 E. 12th Street, National City, CA 91950
Saturday, November 18 | 5:15 p.m Dinner, 6:30 p.m. Show
El Corazon Senior Center
3302 Senior Center Drive, Oceanside, CA 92056
Sunday, November 19 | 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Festival Room, House of Charm
1439 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
For additional information go to www.theoldglobe.org