Sunday, April 19, 2015

Twelfth Night—Post Five Theatre—SE Portland

Masking Reality

Considered one of Shakespeare’s best comedies, this production is directed by Cassandra Boice.  It is playing at their space in the Sellwood area, 1666 SE Lambert St. (parking lot in the rear), through May 16th.  For more information, go to their site at

It is amazing how many of the Bard’s comedies have similar plots.  They are all about finding one’s true love via disguises (often as the opposite sex), secret letters and poems, witty servants, mistaken identities and cross purposes.  But, as the director has pointed out in her notes, it takes a mask or disguise to discover the real nature of another being.

Actually, not a bad subterfuge for finding out a person’s true motives.  Nowadays, we have a controversial government surveillance system that checks up on individuals, ferreting out only the bad eggs, or so we hope.

This story is no stranger to these above mentioned common threads.  At the opening, there has been a shipwreck near an island and some lives are lost.  Viola (Jessica Tidd), having been washed up on shore, fears her twin brother, Sebastian (Sean Kelly), to have been lost at sea.  To discover the truth on this strange island, she disguises herself as a boy, Ceasario, and eventually allies herself with the Duke, Orino (Tom Walton), who she is immediately smitten with.

But the Duke only has eyes for the lady, Olivia (Chip Sherman), who has no interest in him but does seem to favor Ceasario, who has been sent by Orino to plead his case of love.  Meanwhile Olivia has some very odd but witty servants among them, Malvolio (Ty Boice), a rather droll, petulant manservant and Maria (Tori Padellford), a mischievous merrymaker who only adds more chaos to the proceedings.  And, if that wasn’t enough, Olivia has an uncle, Sir Toby Belch (Jeff Gorham), a drunk, his friend, Sir Andrew (Stan Brown), a buffoon and a servant, Feste (Jim Vadala), a witty troubadour.

Without the servants, clowns and fools in these plays, where would we be.  They are the heart and soul of the humor.  Needless to say, everybody eventually ends up with who they should and the morose or malicious beings get their come-uppens.  It is said, it takes a whole village to raise a child.  In this case, it takes a cluster of clowns to put love back on its true course.

As in all his comedies, it is not the actual plot that will win accolades but the machinery that is put in motion to achieve the those ends.  It is the duping of the duped and the awakening of blind lovers and the insights of the lowest of creatures, the servants, that will win the day.  We, who only seek happiness, sometimes ignore those who make us merry.  But, without them in these plays, or Life, where would we be?

Post 5 always does an excellent job of presenting Shakespeare.  And with Ms. Boice at the head of this project, there is no doubt Mr. S. is in good hands.  She has the training in clowning, as well as the language and does a super job with this.  Sherman is one of the primo actors in Portland and his Olivia is outstanding.  We get attitude, wit, humor, lust, and a gal who is at the top of her game, from his characterization.  An actor always worth watching.

Tidd, playing a boy for most of the show, does a convincing job of it, relying on female instincts and wit but always keeping within the male bonds of companionship.  Walton is also good at keeping his feelings for her in check but you can see him melting under her spell.  Gorham and Brown make a good comedy team with lots of funny physical interplay between them.  This is unlike the usual stately or evil characters I’ve seen Gorham portray and it is a real delight to see him “expand” in this, as he does it well.

Vadala is a nice “emcee” for the proceedings and his singing and comedy quite accessible for the audience, making them feel part of it.  And Ty Boice is a real treat.  His lisping, morose clown is a delight.  He can get more out of a cold stare or a silence or a limp, than all the asides possible.  He is a master of humor and his portrayal of this malcontent is a classic.  “May you live long and prosper.”

The setting, Aaron Kissinger, is very versatile allowing many different scenes to be played out without the audience getting confused as to where and when.  And the costumes, Gina Piva, are equally fun, giving a taste of each character without overpowering them.

I recommend this show.  If you do go, please tell them Dennis sent you.  

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