Coronado, CA---Haven’t ‘brushed up on your Shakespeare yet? Don’t need to. Lamb’s Player’s Theatre in Coronado has made Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” or “What You Will” so much fun and given it so much charm that you don’t have to over think, be kerfuffled by the language, or pretend you are back in school studying the Bard. You just have to enjoy.
In another one of Shakespeare’s mistaken identity, cross dressing, gender bending and farcical comedies (“All’s Well That Ends Well” and “Two Gentlemen Of Verona”), “Twelfth night” is now in a gleeful production on Lamb’s Players Stage in Coronado through July 6 th.
It has just the right formula to keep you glued to your seats unless of course you can’t stop chuckling out loud at Brian Mackey tripping over himself as one of the company clowns, Andrew Aguecheek, who is smitten with Olivia, or Brian Rickel as Malvolio the hotel manager who also google eyed as well over Olivia (Christy Yael-Cox).
Mackey has the haven’t got a clue look, eyes popping and intense confusion face which is a serious change of pace from his last role as Chris Keller in Intrepid’s “All My Sons” production not so long ago. His versatility is a virtue for this well-rounded actor who has grown immensely over the years.
As for Rickel, he’s a kick ranting and strutting around in cut off tuxedo pants with yellow argyle knee socks and a stupid grin on his face to impress his boss, hotel magnet Olivia. In his change of pace from the snobby hotel manager ready to diss anyone he thinks might be breaking Hotel rules to class clown he doesn’t see himself as the victim of a prank. He just about brings the house down. He also thinks he’s the ‘cats meow’. (Jeanne Barnes Reith designed the costumes fit for fools or royalty…the US Navy that is.)
Then there’s Robert Smyth, a certified alcoholic as Sir Toby Olivia’s cousin, tripping all over himself acting as Andrew’s counsel and chief troublemaker. Tipping the light fantastic he couldn’t look like he was having more fun if he tried, and the fact that he has two beautiful woman, Maria and Fabianna (Cynthia Gerber and Carrie heath are head of housekeeping and room service manager) following him and trouble-making with him is another reason for the permanent smile on his face.
Smyth who also directs this comedy does so with an uncanny eye. He hit the jackpot on this one, the choice being perfect for Lamb’s 20th anniversary season in Coronado with the Del, 1949, being the background setting for the action. The story about two siblings lost at sea and what antics it follows to get them reunited is the stuff of Shakespeare's comedy. It couldn't have found a better beach to land on.
Mike Buckley’s replica of the entrance, red carpet, stairs, huge planters, latticework and bannister are exactly as I remember. A huge travel poster hangs in full view inviting and sacred all at once.Buckley is also credited for the bright lighting design.
Chris O’Bryon is Feste the Jester who also happens to play the piano and sing is on deck as a funny and sophisticated dressed to the nines in a red pin -stripped seersucker suit, vest and bow tie looking very dapper, if you don’t mind. He’s the Hotel’s lounge entertainment (“If music be the food of love, play on”). Along with aids Valentine and Curio (Jesse Abeel and Jacob Caltrider harmonize beautifully) they spiff the production up with music we come to expect. The aids, dressed in their summer whites, belong to Duke Orsino (Jason Maddy) and also do hid bidding. (Songs and lyrics by Shakespeare/original music by Jon Lorenz are perfect.)
They are all delicious characters that almost steal the thunder right under the noses of the main honchos.
The peace de restance is the uncanny resemblance between the ‘twins (the central figures in this romp) Viola and Sebastian (Caitie Grady and Charles Evans JR.). They were separated at sea when their ship was wrecked. She was washed ashore (in Coronado) and thinks her twin brother is dead. Grieved, she meets up with and confides in a Sea Captain (Jeffrey Jones) who briefs her on the comings and goings on the Island of Coronado. Grady is the perfect foil as Casario. Her presence is easy and convincing. She's the perfect find as Viola.
In order to see the Duke and or the noble Olivia, Viola disguises herself as the young man Cesario. She wears men’s clothing, short hair and a moustache. Soon he/she becomes the confidante and messenger for the Duke who is going mad because Olivia refuses to see him. Jason Maddy, the base captain/Duke, is appropriately highbrow, all business and rather befuddled by the way Olivia is acting towards him; she refuses all attempts to see him.
Downtrodden Olivia, who has vowed never to marry after the deaths of her brother and father, soon becomes ‘interested’ in this young whippersnapper Cesario to the consternation of the Duke. She makes every effort to pin him down by presenting him with rings and other gifts but to no avail. Things get slippery when Sebastian happens on the hotel lobby the same time as Casario. He has the confused-doesn’t have a clue look on his face. Charles Evans JR. doesn’t have too much to do but show up as the twin brother of Viola. When he does havoc prevails.
Olivia, who in this picture is the owner of ‘The Hotel’, has her own set of hang-ups. Yael’s stylish and chic Olivia is at once standoff, smitten, hand wringing and confused when, unbeknownst to her she falls head over heels for another woman in disguise as a man.
Yael, who has proven herself as director extraordinaire at her Intrepid Shakespeare Company, can now add to her credits as having made an impressive debut at Lamb’s Players Theater.
If you think you need glasses because you are seeing double when Viola and Sebastian are on stage together, so do they.
Would it be too tacky to say “All’s Well That Ends Well?”
Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” belongs to Lamb’s. It should definitely be on your ‘must see list’.
See you at the theatre.
Dates: Through July 6th
Organization: Lamb’s Players Theatre
Production Type: Comedy
Where: 1142 Orange Ave., Coronado, CA 92118
Ticket Prices: $22.00-$62.00