Twelfth Night | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Twelfth Night

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TWELFTH NIGHT, Or what You Will, Footsteps Theatre Company. The subtitle may be the source of the trouble: speak the lines in the right order, it implies, and Illyria and everything else will follow.

Not necessarily. Jean Adamak's all-female staging inevitably stresses the play's homoerotic undertones, most winningly in the one-sided courtship between Michele DiMaso's energetic Viola and Antoinette Broderick's sensuous Olivia. (One more sexual switch in a play where a boy originally played a woman who pretended to be a boy hardly matters.) What this update lacks is a sense of where we are and why. Vaguely set in Central Park--apparently an excuse for a gratuitous mugging--this production doesn't sustain the setting despite a painted backdrop.

A hodgepodge of acting and musical styles further confuses things: individual performances are never less than persuasive, but the connections that would make us care about the characters are missing--Viola's love for Dawn Alden's Orsino is altogether too hard to find. Worse, the strained comedy lacks an edge. Sandra Storrer's strangely subdued Malvolio lacks the pomposity to make us mock him and the pathos to make us pity him, and it's hard to see what triggers his comeuppance from Karin McKie's Sir Toby, an innocuous souse, or Melissa Van Kersen's streetwise Feste. One performance catches fire, however. Kim Wade brings passion to whatever Sebastian does, which in this play is entirely too little.

--Lawrence Bommer

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