Review: Bryn Mawr Shakespeare Performance Troupe’s Twelfth Night, or What You Will

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From April 13-15, Bryn Mawr College’s Shakespeare Performance Troupe presented Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night, or What You Will—with a few variations.

In their adaptation, co-directors Elizabeth Yost, BMC ‘19 and Kristiana Marcopoulos, BMC ‘18 decided to rework an ending they found “troublesome”. In their rendition of the play, the couples of Olivia and Sebastian and Viola and Orsino are scrapped, with only Sir Toby and Maria remaining together.

In an unexpected twist, the directors paired Olivia with Viola and Sebastian with Antonio, who is usually seen as either as a bosom-brother to Antonio or as an elderly servant-figure. Duke Orsino remains alone in the end.

These changes in no way detracted from the wondrousness of Shakespeare. Although the new ending likely required substantial portions of the original text to be rewritten, the verbosity and eloquence that characterize Shakespeare’s writing remained present throughout the performance.

On the night of April 15, the cast performed a “joke night” – when little spots of humor are added throughout the production, often in ways that make it difficult to determine whether or not the humor was originally there. With a wonderful cast and a fascinating take on the classic drama, the performance did not disappoint. The gorgeous gayness of the two pairs – Annie Belgam, BMC ‘18 (Antonio) and Rachel Ellerson, BMC ‘19 (Sebastian) and Moreen McGrath, BMC ‘20 (Viola/Cesario) and Maddie Smith, BMC ‘20 (Olivia) – shone throughout the entire performance. The scenes that contained these couples often brought ‘aws’ and clapping from the audience.

Ellen Wright, BMC ‘19 portrayed a wonderfully foolish Feste. The terrific and terrifying trio of Heather Griffin, BMC ‘19 (Maria), Kate Mulligan, BMC ‘17 (Sir Toby Belch), and Aly Robins, BMC ‘17 (who portrayed a female sir Andrew Aguecheek) inspired laughter and lightheartedness, a sharp contrast to an unusually harsh version of Orsino. Elinor de la Torre, BMC ‘17 did a wonderful job portraying the fearsome tyrant. As a “joke night” feature, she even included a parody of “Gaston” from Beauty and the Beast which added to the already plentiful laughter that filled the Rhodes Dining Hall.

Other highlights of the production include Rachel Silverman, BMC ‘19 appearing as a rabbi, Carolyn Cannizzaro, BMC ‘19 as Paul Blart Mall Cop, a fantastic performance by Lyra Piscitelli, BMC ‘18 of Malvolio’s scene in the dark room, and a reprisal of the appearance of the Troupe’s most interesting asset – Dear Abby, a literal deer. Overall, this performance proved to be a welcome respite during a stressful time of the semester.

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