By Esther Ro/Garden Grove Journal
Love triangles are a sticky business, and while this is no exception in Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” there are few that are more humorous to watch unfold.
Under the direction of Thomas and Alyssa Bradac, Shakespeare Orange County presents the renowned playwright’s final romantic comedy with an added emphasis on the comedy at the Festival Amphitheatre in Garden Grove.
At the story’s center is Viola, played by Karissa Vacker, a beautiful young woman who is shipwrecked onto a foreign land called Illyria. Believing her twin brother Sebastian (Shaun Anthony) to have perished at sea, she disguises herself as a man and adopts the pseudonym Cesario in order to gain employment in the Duke Orsino’s house.
While Orsino, played by Jeffrey James Lippold, is lovesick for Countess Olivia (Maria Costa), Viola begins to develop her own romantic feelings for her handsome master. Olivia does not return the nobleman’s love but instead falls head over heels for Cesario, the fairfaced young “man” who arrives at her door with doting messages from Orsino.
And thus the stage is set for some dire misunderstandings and hilarious interactions.
But that’s not all! A band of rowdy and mischievous characters from Olivia’s household wreak more havoc for their own pleasure.
John Frederick Jones as the perpetually drunk Sir Toby Belch, Amanda Areues as the conspiratorial Maria, Alyssa Bradac as Feste the clever fool and Kevin Swanstrom as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, the true witless one, deceive Olivia’s steward Malvolio (played by John Walcutt) into behaving in a utterly humiliating and seemingly insane manner.
Then enter Sebastian, who isn’t dead after all. Mistaken for Cesario, he inadvertently meddles in the affairs of his sister’s acquaintances, which puts Viola in some compromising situations.
This being a comic tale rather than a tragic one, everything falls into its proper and favorable place once the truth is revealed. As in the words of the bard himself, “All’s well that ends well.”
The Bradacs belief in theatre’s obligation to be theatrical is undeniably evident as Shakespeare comes to life under the stars (or smog-clouded skies) with infectious tunes, elaborate costumes and the actors’ unwavering and unabashed commitment to their roles.
Costa literally rolls on the floor, squealing with merriment at the idea of making Cesario her lover. Walcutt dances and prances around the stage under the misconception that this will delight his Lady Olivia.
What makes this production such a joy is the enchanting experience of engaging in a timeless tradition that is becoming increasingly difficult to come by.
Expect nothing less than laughs, smiles and more laughs from this lighthearted rendition of one of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays. Never fear if you can’t decipher every poetic phrase – you will quickly catch on to the humor abundant throughout the scenes and soon be chuckling along with the rest of the crowd.
“Twelfth Night” will run Thursdays through Saturdays until Aug. 3 at the Festival Amphitheatre, located at 12762 Main St in Garden Grove. All performances start at 8:15 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.shakespeareoc.org or by calling the box office at (714) 744-7016. General admission is $35 and $33 for seniors and students.