The Alley Theatre knows how to do Shakespeare. Their whimsical but relatable performance of “Twelfth Night” is my new favorite production of the Bard’s work.
William Shakespeare is beyond legendary. Sometimes when performing his works, I think artists get too caught up with his words and forget that there is so much acting that can be done between the lines. The cast at the Alley Theatre pumped so much life and energy into this production that even though I’ve seen this play multiple times, I was impressed with how captivating and fresh this performance was.
“Twelfth Night” is arguably one of William Shakespeare’s most popular comedies. It’s even the basis for the 2006 movie “She’s the Man.” UH also produced ‘Twelfth Night’ last year as part of the annual Houston Shakespeare Festival.
Kim Blanck and Elizabeth Bunch play the heroines Viola and Olivia in the play. Both women are are able to unmistakably express their characters’ moments of lust and heartbreak. Bursting with vitality and romance, “Twelfth Night” gives us one of Shakespeare’s most dynamic heroines in Viola’s character.
Todd Waite adds to the Shakespearean comedy by being the perfect Malvolio. He pulls off the ridiculous attempt at courtship and cross-gartered downfall. Fabian (Mark Ivy)’s random costume was a gamble that paid in laughs. Sir Toby Belch (Michael Manual) drunken antics and searches for flasks are entertaining. I also enjoyed Feste (Jay Sullivan)’s final song getting a welcomed romantic reboot.
This nontraditional yet faithful production of “Twelfth Night” is set in the 1930s and it has the coolest stage that I have ever seen in Houston. The lush grass island surrounded by a moat of water makes the play seem to take place in a dreamy remote world. Although, I would not want to sit in the front row for this one.
The Alley Theatre shows how Shakespeare is supposed to be done with not only heart, passion and character being pumped in the script but also between the lines.
“Twelfth Night” is playing at the Alley Theatre in downtown Houston through Oct. 28.
With a valid student ID, tickets are $16 for non-prime performances and $26 for prime performances (Friday and Saturday evenings, Sunday matinees). If purchasing online, use the promo code STUDENT.