Twelfth Night | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Twelfth Night, Griffin Theatre Company.

A group of flower children gather amid the swings and jungle gyms of the "Griffin Park" playground to do Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, which they render with coltish enthusiasm. It's a pose, of course. Director Richard Barletta's cast are well schooled in the interpretation of archaic language--though none appears to have given more than momentary thought to characterization--and the members of his technical team are all experienced professionals.

Yet ingenuousness and simplicity become the classics as much as pomp and spectacle, and how better to deliver a fable on the folly of artifice than with unpretentious players? What stuntman David Gregory's Feste may lose in verbal agility is more than made up for by the physical kind. Andrea Fitzgerald radiates a fresh charm as the transvestite Viola. And Dominic Conti (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), Michael Hagedorn (Sir Toby Belch), and Richard Gilbert (Fabian) set up some nice Mack Sennett-style slapstick.

Theatergoers who prefer more formal entertainment may want to wait for Shakespeare Rep's production, which opens on the heels of this one. But there's much to amuse and engage here.

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