Twelfth Night, Shakespeare Repertory. Where Griffin Theatre’s recent Twelfth Night played up the innocence of the self-blinded lovers, siblings, and buffoonish hangers-on, Shakespeare Rep’s revival is statelier and more substantial, reflecting the characters’ extremes. Consider the misplaced love of Henry Godinez’s Orsino–astonished to learn that love is right there, in Elyse Mirto’s radiant Viola–and the unresolved rage of Greg Vinkler’s brittle Malvolio, a Humpty Dumpty who falls but isn’t lucky enough to break. If the Griffin troupe coasted on youthful energy, technique and panache carry this three-hour production, as you’d expect from English director Michael Pennington. Every scene is a revelation, and not one good line is lost in this deliberate, crystal-clear staging, set at the turn of the 20th century. And many that seemed fustian (like Viola’s “For such as we are made of, such we be”) suddenly resonate.
It’s a rare Twelfth Night where Malvolio seems more lovesick than the usual suspects; Vinkler makes the steward’s doomed ardor for his mistress a cry for help. More discreet but just as anguished is Lisa Dodson, sweetly conveying Olivia’s shift from indifference (to Orsino) to ecstasy (for the wrong twin). Christopher Gerson plays the right twin, Sebastian, with pluck and, in the reunion scene, enough joy to fill a sequel. The lowbrow comedy–hungrily enacted by Howard Witt as Belch, Ronald Keaton feasting his Irish tenor on Alaric Jans’s supple song settings, and Frank Farrell, whose Sir Andrew is a puzzling Dixie bumpkin–is curiously harsh, almost Beckettian. Like Malvolio these clowns are “sick of self-love,” yet lack the hope of real love to redeem them.