A rhythmic, lively pacing distinguishes Aquila Theater Company’s take on the Bard’s elaborate farce Twelfth Night. Featuring leather costumes and a fierce drum‘n’bass soundtrack, this staging is nevertheless a classical interpretation full of sparkling Elizabethan language and intricate 17th-century costumes. Fresh off performing at the White House at the invitation of the NEA (to presumably enlighten the administration on the virtues of funding the arts) here Aquila presents a spirited production of Shakespeare’s comedy of mistaken identity, gender swapping, and triumphant “true love.”
As noblewoman Olivia, the elegant and nuanced Lisa Carter lights up the stage with her deft ability to shift rapidly between sadness, indifference, and lust in the space of a moment. Louis Butelli, as Feste the Clown, chews up scenery with a “meta-theatricality” that provides links between not only the two royal houses in the play but the illusory and real worlds of both the characters onstage and various generations of Shakespeare’s audiences. Kenn Sabberton as the ridiculous Malvolio frequently elicits belly laughs. It is giddy fun.
The physicality with which Aquila attacks the stage is breathtaking: very few moments are wasted, and little narrative or physical space goes unused. An upcoming collaboration with dancer Doug Varone of H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man is an eagerly awaited logical progression for a troupe of such physical intensity.
New York is blessed with two productions of Shakespeare in Central Park this summer, but if you want to get a sure dose of the Elizabethan master done adeptly with contemporary relevance, get yourself to this wickedly funny performance.
The print edition of The L incorrectly listed this production as appearing at the Bouwerie Lane Theater — this is not the case. This particular production of The Twelfth Night is appearing at Baruch Performing Arts Center, 55 Lexington Ave. The L regrets any confusion