It has been an odd (but good) year for Shakespeare in Connecticut.
First we had a rollicking Paul Giamatti “Hamlet,” sloshing and slopping with japery.
And now we have a “Twelfth Night,” that’s quite comfortable exploring its own melancholy.
Which is not to say that Hartford Stage’s “Twelfth Night” isn’t funny. It is. But the laughs come from odd sources. Orsino (the handsome nobleman), for example, is funny right from his opening scene. Feste (the fool) is rather pensive throughout. This is a gorgeous, idiosyncratic, unpredictable production, and you should go see it. But be prepared for a peculiar twist. 12th’s comic trio — Feste, Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek — is Shakespeare’s funniest ensemble (pace, rude mechanicals), but in this Darko Tresnjak production Bruce Turk’s thoroughly excellent Malvolio gets the biggest laugh (and, later on, the audience’s squirming sympathy). Tresnjak mutes the Big Three just a little so that he can explore other colors of the play. And those colors are pasted across the back of the gorgeous set at play’s end, as the cast turns its back to the audience and regards a Maxfield Parrish sunset, beautiful and a little sad.
The play — like so many plays in Connecticut this year — is a visual feast. And Tresnjak is turning out to be one hell of a director and helmsman. He will never love us the way Michael Wilson loved us, and we will never love him back the way we did Wilson. He’s not that guy. But we may love his work very, very much. He’s directed five plays since he got here, and four of them have been sensational. And one senses that he has also invested heavily, as artistic director, in plays he’s not actually directing. I can’t help but feel the restaging of Beth Henley’s “Abundance” got some kind of Tresnjak transfusion.
And one of his HSC plays is headed for Broadway.
So this is good. Go see this show. Have greatness thrust upon you.
Thanks Colin for this review. I appreciate it when reviewers recognize the sweet and bittersweet subtleties in comedy that embrace the link between joy and sadness. That’s the human condition.
Better a witty fool than a foolish wit
Colin’s obsession with Rowland he will not quit
Colin will continue to yelp
Is it a cry for help
Old and tired news and nobody gives a shit
How old are you, Todd? Not very, I see.
This has to do with Shakespeare …. how?
The first line in my limerick was a Shakespearean quote Cynical…so I was on topic…sorry to disappoint.
Ah. I thought “on topic” meant “about the subject.” So any old quote thrown in for style makes something “on topic?”
Todd, there IS something a little infantile about jumping on a Shakespeare thread and pounding out your usual partisan noise like a wind-up monkey banging its cymbals.