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Silliness reigns supreme at Coronado Playhouse in the presentation of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night, or What You Will,” in this 16th edition of the theater’s annual free Shakespeare series.
But the goofy goings-on don’t hide the transcendent performance of Mary Volpe-Dawson as Viola, the shipwrecked twin brought to Illyria by a kindly ship captain (Eric Hedberg).
You remember the story of the Bard’s last comedy: Viola and her twin brother Sebastian (Albert Molina), separated shortly after birth by a storm at sea, converge quite accidentally years later in Illyria, resulting in much confusion, merriment and mistaken identities.
Viola arrives first and hires on as a boy named Cesario to serve as messenger to Count Orsino (Terence J. Burke). Viola has her eye on the Count; the Count is in love with the lovely Olivia (Sarah Stair), still in mourning for her recently-deceased brother. The Count sends Cesario to Olivia with entreaties of love; Olivia will have none of the Count, but falls in love with Cesario.
Eventually Sebastian docks, thanks to stalwart seaman Antonio (Joel Castellaw), and the real confusion begins.
The merriment brought by mistaken identity is heightened by the lunacy engaged in by the Shakespearean Three Stooges – that drunken lout Sir Toby Belch (Robert Shadbolt), Olivia’s fool Feste (Frank Godinez) and Olivia’s slightly fey suitor Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Nathan Boyer).
Counterbalancing that goofy trio is Olivia’s anti-fun steward Malvolio (Martin M. White), stiff of carriage and solemn of expression, stalking around and glowering at the frivolity that surrounds him. He becomes the target of widespread hilarity thanks to a mean but funny prank played by Olivia’s spunky lady-in-waiting Maria (Nicole Brokaw).
Brokaw’s Maria, Molina’s Sebastian, Burke’s Orsino and Castellaw’s Antonio are nicely played as well.
Keith A. Anderson’s direction heightens the inherent goofiness of the story (which delighted the opening-night audience) and keeps it moving at a good clip.
Jay Newington’s set and Mary Anderson’s costumes add to the atmosphere, as do the lighting (Dale Goodman) and sound design (Kelly Henry and Mary Anderson).
Don’t look for a message here. This show is just for fun – and perfect for a warm summer evening.
“Twelfth Night, or What You Will” plays through Sept. 23 at Coronado Playhouse, 1835 Strand Way, Coronado.
Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm.
For tickets. call 619-435-4856 or visit HERE.
To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.