Director Mary Farrell breathes new life into Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night", Providence College's first show of their season. The show is set in Illyria in the 1960's and is about the shipwrecked Viola who disguises herself as a man. She falls in love with her employer Count Orsino and the beautiful Olivia falls in love with Cesario who is Viola in disguise. The comic subplot concerns Olivia's pompous steward, Malvolio believing that Olivia has fallen for him. It involves Olivia's uncle, Sir Toby Belch; another would-be suitor, Sir Andrew Aguecheek; her servants Maria and Fabian; and her fool, Feste. Sir Toby and Sir Andrew engage themselves in drinking and revelry, causing Malvolio to chastise them. This provokes them to plan revenge on Malvolio by convincing him that Olivia is secretly in love with him. Pretending Malvolio is insane, they lock him in a dark chamber. Meanwhile Sebastian who has been rescued by a sea captain, Antonio, arrives on the scene. Mistaking him for Viola, Olivia asks him to marry her. Finally, when Viola and Sebastian appear in the presence of both Olivia and the Count, Viola reveals she is really a female and that Sebastian is her lost twin brother. Mary creates many comic situations and picture post card moments in her show to keep the audience entertained from the opening stormy shipwreck to the joyful finish.
Mary's cast has wonderful timing and her topnotch blocking makes the scenes flow seamlessly. The costumes are by Fran Romasco and the set is by Vincent Sansalone. The lighting effects are by Tim Cryan and are incredible.Erin Fusco plays the leading role of Viola. She does a wonderful job in this difficult man/woman role and acts the part beautifully by standing at attention to be masculine to fool everyone. Erin is a pretty brunette and makes the role crackle with electricity. Daniel Caplin does a wonderful job as Duke Orsino. He is very forceful as the rich Duke ordering his servants around while trying to court Olivia. Orsino doesn't realize his own true love worked for him all this time. Both Erin and Daniel display their strength as an acting duo. I reviewed them both earlier this year in at Providence College in "Lend Me a Tenor" where she played Julia and he played Tito.
Grace Curley plays the gorgeous Olivia and Logan Serabian plays Sebastian are the other couple who finally end up together at the close of the night. Grace is a statuesque blonde and does a marvelous job as the strong willed Olivia. She handles the transition into a softer more loving woman when she falls for Cesario. One of the funniest bits in the show comes when Olivia woos Viola as Cesario. Grace played Maria in "Lend Me a Tenor. Logan is a force to be reckoned with as the hero who wins Olivia's heart. He makes the character likeable but gives it the needed strength the role calls for beating the crap out of Toby and Andrew.Sir Toby Belch and his crazy companions bring the comic power to "Twelfth Night". Jeff DeSisto is the biggest scene stealer in this show. He is a laugh riot from his first entrance as a drunken lout to the closing dancing off stage. Jeff who is dressed as a hippie, is topnotch as this naughty,bawdy man. Sir Toby is constantly drinking beer after beer. Jeff has many funny moments including the hiding in the garden. He played Saunders in "Tenor". His cohorts in laughter are Sean Carney as the dimwitted, clumsy Sir Andrew who secretly loves Olivia. Some of his comic bits include acting like the three stooges and having a bloody nose. Sean is dressed like a golf pro from the 1920's and wears a blond wig. The talented Kevin Lynch as Feste, the Fool is smarter than you think by collecting money from everyone he outwits. The wandering idiot of Illyria is a hoot, doing splendid shtick. Kevin has a funny umbrella dance and a comical rap song to close the show.
Olivia's servants are Phil Gape and Marisa Urgo as Fabian and Maria. They play the gardener who helps out Toby in his plans and the maid who controls the crazy household and the men by using her smarts to outwit the offensive Malvolio. Patrick Saunders plays the evil Malvolio who is mistreated by the comic cohorts in the show. He starts out as a stuffy butler and is later tricked into being a grinning suitor of Olivia. Malvolio gets thrown in jail and locked up for being daft has to be seen to be believed. The role fits him like a glove and the funniest line in the show is "Most men have greatness thrust upon them" when he does a pelvic thrust while saying it. Patrick wins thunderous applause on his last entrance descending thru a trap door. Marisa and Patrick played Diana and Max in "Tenor". Ben Williams plays Antonio the sea captain who rescues Sebastian. He gets to rough up the police when they try to arrest him. Kudos to everyone who makes this into a comic romp the audience can savor. So for a topnotch glance at a Shakespearean show performed beautifully by college students, be sure catch "Twelfth Night" before time runs out.