Concert Review: 'Twelfth Night'

By William Shakespeare; Translated by Ehud Manor; Directed by Udi Ben-Moshe; at the Khan Theater; March 7.

The Twelfth Night play 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
The Twelfth Night play 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The outrageous Sir Toby (Erez Shafrir) wears lace-trimmed underpants, and priggish Malvolio’s (Nir Ron) yellow stockings are lacy, too. Sir Andrew the asinine (Liron Baraness) wears skirts. Stiff corsets conceal breasts or their lack. A back wall of mirror-like panels on Miki Ben-Cnaan’s effective set throws back multiple and distorted images. Solid pillars move. Polina Adamov’s costumes look like Oxfam rejects.
Indeed, gender ambiguity, the shifting perceptions of love, and the inexorability of time underpin Udi Ben-Moshe’s canny direction of this intelligently marvelous Twelfth Night.
Ben-Moshe seems able to coax superlative performances from actors, and he does it again here so that two hours – there’s no intermission – pass in a flash. The late Ehud Manor’s translation reflects both the wit and the poetry of Shakespeare’s language, and the actors deliver it as if newly minted.
Black-coated, black-robed Feste (Yehoyachin Friedlander), master of ceremonies and clown, dominates the production in what is surely Friedlander’s finest performance to date. His Feste subtly combines mischief and compassion, and he sings Yosef Bardanashvilli’s haunting music beautifully.
Nili Rogel keeps Viola sharp, sassy and very much on the verbal ball while maintaining her femininity, the femininity that so confuses Orsino, here played by very young actor Ariel Wolf with a little too much teen petulance and flounce.
Shimrit Lustig looks like the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come as she makes her initial appearance robed in black, and the obviously fake hairpiece distracts. For all that, her Olivia is poised, both cool and passionate, very much in command.
Erez Shafrir’s boozily belligerent Toby, Nir Ron’s cadaverous, mincing Malvolio and Liron Baraness’s pomaded and quivering Sir Andrew are enough to make one weep – tears of laughter. Irit Pashtan’s assured and self-assured Maria completes the quartet. A must-see.