William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” is a celebratory repast replete with mistaken identities, gender crossing and spirited slapstick. And Lincoln’s Flatwater Shakespeare Company’s production of the comedy is simply a jovial escapade of capering fun.
Currently performed in the Lincoln Community Foundation Garden, director Bob Hall has moved the 16th century piece into the early 20th century via 1920s Parisian jazz, entr’acte music and period costumes.
The play revolves around Viola (Maggie Austin), who — surviving a shipwreck and believing her brother dead — assumes the guise of a male named Cesario to serve Duke Orsino (Nathan Weiss) in Illyria. There she finds herself wooing the maid Olivia (Summer Widhalm) in Orsino’s stead, with the result being Olivia falling in love with Cesario/Viola and Viola in love with Orsino.
The play also features a riotous secondary plot featuring a collection of supporting characters within Olivia’s household.
Although the production’s trio of lead performers provides staple efforts in the romantic story line, it is from the supporting roles that a cornucopia of bravado is delivered.
Leading this fractured foray are Richard Nielsen as Malvolio, Olivia’s servant; Tom Crew as Sir Toby Belch, Olivia’s cousin; and Andy Dillehay as Feste, the clown. Nielsen’s didactic Malvolio is an oily egotistical jewel, with Crew’s inebriated Sir Toby a cavorting marvel. Add in a wonderfully audacious and swaggering performance from Dillehay to complete the circle.
Austin executes a nicely balanced performance as Cesario/Viola, very capably delivering an understated display of her character’s emotional vacillation between male and female reactions to the situation in which she finds herself.
Look to Clay Stevens (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), Cory Misek (Sebastian) and Mike Lee (Fabian) for other satisfying portrayals.
While Janice Stauffer’s plethora of costumes for the cast allows the actors the opportunity for numerous changes throughout the play, more importantly, the variety of attire supports the comedy’s breezy buoyancy.
The Flatwater production of “Twelfth Night” — subtitled “What You Will” — is a lighthearted jaunt that easily enfolds those watching it into its merry festival spirit.