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Twelfth Night, or What You Will

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Twelfth Night, or What You Will, Theatre-Hikes, at the Morton Arboretum. Shakespeare is often performed outdoors in the summer, but Theatre-Hikes creates its own twist on the practice: whenever the characters switch locations, the audience does too, proceeding to the next tree or scenic vista. The "hike" is more of a delightful stroll, about a mile and a half in two and a half hours--and there's something wonderful about being able to stretch between scenes.

Though Twelfth Night will be performed at the Morton Arboretum, I saw it in previews at Chicago's Gompers Park. Dressed in colorful, amusing 1960s garb by Mary Bliss Mather and directed by Frank Merle, the cast gives the play a light touch ideal for the setting. Steven A. Townshend is all sighs and longing as the Duke in love with Olivia (Elizabeth MacDougald, who slides easily from cold scorn to radiant giddiness). Keith M. Cavenaugh and Ben Rossen as Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek are perfect comic drunks. Patricia Austin is puckish as the fool, Amy Johnson brings surprising verve to Olivia's maid, and Nick Brenner is so amusing as the servant Malvolio he might have stepped out of Monty Python. Only the twins at the center of the plot are unconvincing: Mather as Viola never succeeds at aping a boy, and Jason Powers as Sebastian is dry and unremarkable.

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