by Winston Soon
Direct Flight Theatre Company’s interesting latest project – an adaptation of Twelfth Night – is a very contemplative production. So much so in fact, that it might have been somewhat lost on the audience of 300 or so middle school students that filled the backspace of the Gladstone.
I arrived at 1:40pm. Seemingly 20 minutes early but actually 10 minutes late for this production. Though all of the publicity (website, posters, postcards) read that the matinee will begin at 2:00 pm it in fact it began at 1:30 pm. Maybe to accommodate an entire school worth of kids. The helpful lady out front tells me that it is too full but manages to find room for me and my guest, Joe.
Joe is a great lover of the play and as an actor, has performed it in the past. This is the reason that he has come with me. I have to say, the actors do extremely well considering the energy 300 school kids give to a show, particularly a Shakespearian show. It is actually not unlike the rowdy crowds Shakespeare wrote for originally, and there are some particularly fun sitcom-like cheers and “ooohs” when anyone kisses onstage or grabs a body part.
Director Hume Baugh has chosen to set the piece on the floor, rather than using Gladstone’s stage which gives the piece a bit more of an intimate, “in the round” type of feeling. But it isn’t truly in the round and so much of the sightlines are completely missed by those sitting in the back, like Joe and me.
Amber Mills’s “Viola” is very thoughtful and probably the most quietly earnest Viola I have ever seen. Daniel Krolik’s “Antonio” is despondent and full of heartbreak.
These somber characters were complemented by wonderful music as well as really fine examples of commitment to comedy and through the fantastic performances by George Masswohl as “Sir Toby Belch”, Greg Campbell as “Feste”,Ryan Kelly as “Andrew Aguecheek”,Ieva Lucs as “Mariah”, and Micheal Rode as “Malvolio”.
There is a lot of music in Twefth Night and Joe felt this was the best interpretation of the music he has ever seen. I would agree. When the kids started to get rowdy, Campbell’s angelic voice immediately hushed them into a collective lull. A gorgeously sung ending brought some fantastic applause as well.
Where the show was lacking for Joe and me was in the fact that some of the great passion that this play is about just seemed to have been thought away. The love-sick Orsinio seemed overly contemplative, though we missed his big scene at the beginning.
Olivia didn’t seem particularly forlorn over the loss of her brother, which made it harder to buy into her passion for Viola, who she believes is a man, Caesario.
Twelfth Night is often considered a show about the madness and heartbreak of love. With minimal set pieces, props, and lights, paired with some quiet dialogue, Direct Flight’s “Tweflth Night” sometimes only hovers when it has the potential to fly.
Look for upcoming productions with Direct Flight .