While Shakespeare purists may gulp a bit at the introduction of songs by Irving Berlin, they are knitted seamlessly into the play's fabric.
By HELEN KAYETwelfth Night
By William Shakespeare
Translated by Dori Parnes
Directed by Raffi Niv
This is an intelligent and fun production. It also completely respects the work. And while Shakespeare purists may gulp a bit at the introduction of songs by Irving Berlin, they are knitted seamlessly into the play's fabric, lending a jazzy upbeat to Shakespeare's crafty variations on the theme of love: the love of man for woman, brotherly love, self love, love of love, infatuation and so forth.
Director Niv's 1930s self-absorbed Hollywood Twelfth Night is glamorously and drolly dressed by Moni Mednik, atmospherically lit by Amir Brenner, confidently moves among the different levels of Svetlana Breger's truly beautiful boardwalk set, is serenaded on cue by a nifty live trio headed by music director Avi Benjamin on piano, and is unerringly projected through the characters.
It does require another gulp, for instance, to accept aristocratic Olivia (Michal Weinberg) as a blonde bombshell, but within this context, she makes it work - as does, most gloriously, Alex Senderovich as an Ã¼ber-beaurocratic Malvolio. Kudos also to Gilad Kletter's wonderfully world-weary Feste, Jonathan Miller's passionate Antonio and Erez Drigues's ever-out-of-his depth Andrew Aguecheek.
Twelfth Night (1601) combines identical twins, mistaken identities, fruitless wooings and mischievous clowning, shakes them together and decants them into mythical Illyria, where even the weather is capricious.
Niv's impeccable direction keeps all effortlessly aloft. I think Shakespeare's ghost is cheering.
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