Twelfth Night

Green Globe Theatre was founded on the idea of sustenance.  They believe in making theater, but using materials that are recycled, upcycled, used, etc. and not increasing to the clutter, pollution, and general waste that sometimes comes along with a massive production.  The mission is a noble one, and I am routing for al the theater companies in Baltimore to succeed, but I feel like the shows here are hit or miss.

I thoroughly enjoy the idea of infusing modern music into Shakespeare classics.  Other theater companies do this as well, and I do think it is in the spirit of what Will would have wanted.  GG’s Macbeth was a wonderful twist on my favorite play.  And likewise, this one, was supposed to be sort of a frat boy yacht club backdrop for Twelfth Night.  Or as their tag says, “same shipwreck, different day.”  My general vibe would be 90s based on attire and musical selections (which, as always were completely apt).  When entering their space, the crew was very friendly with delicious beer and homemade fans for sale made from the script pages; you might want one of those, because it is a bit hot and sticky despite the fans in the windows.  But the stage ahead is set up and it kind of looked like a high school production.  The painted flats on a stage with a curtain was not the atmosphere I think they were going for.  I wondered if it would be possible to divorce themselves from the use of the stage and think outside the box for other ways to use the space?  Just an idea that would carry a different ambiance.

The number one reason to see this production is the spot-on casting of Sir Toby.  Drew Beardmore is a jolly delight.  He guzzles alcohol, embodies a beachy frat boy, and sings classics such as “Kokomo” with conviction.  Not to be overshadowed, his sidekick, Kas Schroeder as the bumbling knight is just charming as can be.  I wanted to pinch his cheeks!  The stuffed dragon, slipping glasses, and adorable mismatched ties perfectly complement his antics of jumping, ruffling those gorgeous curls, and constantly reacting to the world around him.

The other shout out goes to Marissa Chaffee as Olivia.  She is statuesque and lovely to watch float around the stage.  She also nailed all the double entendres with ease and grace while falling for Cesario/Sebastian in turn.  Allie Press does a lovely job of holding down one of the center roles of this piece.  She has command over her words and seems to make them understandable and relatable.  Press is adorable in her polos and I know she is supposed to be disguised etc. but the gym teacher/camp instructor outfits are cute either way.  The rest of the cast is a mixed bag.  Some have a better handle on their characters than others.

The modernization of the themes was clever- like scuba gear for the yellow stockings, and polos as an androgynous convention to make Viola into Cesario effectively.  If you are familiar with the script and story, the joke at the center is that Sebastian and Viola are siblings that look so alike that they are interchangeable, especially when Viola disguises herself as Cesario to work for the Duke.  Chris Hamilton and Allie Press really don’t resemble one another, which could be a funny joke in some cases, but I feel like there was an attempt to make them resemble each other with the hair choices.  Or there was a joke there but it missed me.

All in all, the production has some value, with the new take of integrating modern songs such as “Wicked Game”, and some classic Buffet, because, you know, “beach.”  The final song for the end of show was also well played, but I’ll leave that a surprise! There are some stand out actors who are locking down this show, and it is a cute retelling in a different time and place.

SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?  Go if you want to see Beardmore and Schroeder doing a comic duo routine that is classic and hysterical.  Go if you like beach inspired attire and a nod to the songs of summer that drove the 90s. Green Globe has a noble mission and consistently uses music effectively, even if other elements fall a bit flat.  Go and dress cool and comfortable. Just buy a refreshing cold drink, take them up on those cushions, and possibly purchase a fan to cool yourself down.  The beach is the setting, but the mugginess is real y’all. (I)

Running at 141 Clinton Street through July 5th.  Running time a smidge over two hours with one fifteen-minute intermission.

Photo credit: Will Malkus, featuring Amy Heller (Malvolio) and Allie Press (Viola).

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