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Twelfth Night

Effective Modern Play.

By Robert M Massimi. ( Broadway Bob).Published 29 days ago 3 min read

"Twelfth Night" at the Axis Company Theatre brings front and center just what The Bard had intended when he wrote this glorious piece. The play is riff with mistaken identities and great frolic.

In this production, I was reminded of a great company back in the early 80's that used to be in residence there; The Ridiculous Theater Company. Much of "the business" that the actors had poked fun as well at farce towards the characters that they were playing, and it all tied together nicely indeed! Much of the success of this brilliant, shortened rendition goes to the producing director Brian Barnhart. In making use of the full stage, crisp entrances and bawdy gestures, the direction always keeps the audience engaged, always.

"Twelfth Night" is not an easy show to produce; the reason we see so little of this timeless piece is that it can be cumbersome as well as confusing at times. The Axis Company cutting its length and bringing the most relevant to the forefront at 90 minutes gives us just the right amount of story (adaptation by Marc Palmieri)

Karl Ruckdeschel's costumes capture the period and are extremely creative. So too are the wigs and makeup Leone Gagliardi and Will Vicari. In both the costumes and wigs, the audience gets to go back in time and relish the period in which this was written. I am not sure we can call this a modern piece because it holds to Shakespeare's vision of this play. Shakespeare often poked fun at the times in which he lived; he brought the tawdry front and center in many of his works, and here in "Twelfth Night", Axis brings all the good stuff in this writing.

The story is based on Viola, (Britt Genelin) separated from her twin, Sebastian, (Eli Bridges) dresses as a boy and works for Duke Orsino, (Jon McCormick) whom she falls in love with. Orsino is in love with Countess Olivia, (Kathy Frame) and sends Viola to court for him, but Olivia falls for Viola instead. Sebastian arrives, causing a flood of mistaken identity, and marries Olivia.

To say that all the main characters are excellent is an understatement; this is the way off off Broadway used to be in the 80's and 90's... a crisp cast with really good actors. Unfortunately in today's off off Broadway we get more showcases that run for a short period of time and often are politically driven towards climate change and or the LGBTQ community. Call me nostalgic, but this play is old school with raw talent, great writing and something you can sink your teeth into. Whereas much of today in the Village we get mise-mosh of writing and acting, Axis brings a professional body of work in this play.

In a simple set, but an effective on, Randell Sharp is very creative in how the blocks ebb and flow. Even the jail scene is well appointed, as is how the actors carry about both stage left and stage right. His set gives us options on where we look throughout the performance. Michael Birnbaum's sound hits the emotion of the play at the right times. The play is sometimes suspenseful and other times eery. The sound pretty much captures the direction here. The lighting at times does not hit the actors properly, however. We sometimes lose the actors with weak focus on their faces.

"Twelfth Night" is one of the best performance I have seen in the off off Broadway space in a long time. Where this realm of theater used to be edgy, in your face and creative has now gone by way of mediocrity and it seems that little thought is put into the acting and writing. Here at Axis, however, we get a masterful and creative piece that is worth seeing again and again!


About the Creator

Robert M Massimi. ( Broadway Bob).

I have been writing on theater since 1982. A graduate from Manhattan College B.S. A member of Alpha Sigma Lambda, which recognizes excellence in both English and Science. I have produced 14 shows on and off Broadway. I've seen over700 shows

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