UMBC’s Twelfth Night is a Play Worth Watching

William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” is known for withstanding time and continuing to dazzle and perplex generation after generation with its overlapping plots involving sorrow, revenge and love. Director Eve Muson’s take on the play remains true to the subject matter, but includes a few pleasurable deviations.

“Twelfth Night” follows the story of Viola, a girl who, after losing her twin brother Sebastian at sea, washes up onto the Illyrian shores. She then poses as a man in order to serve the duke whom she hopelessly falls in love with. Unfortunately, the duke is in love with a countess named Olivia and hires Viola to send Olivia his acts of love. Following this trail of misfortune, Olivia falls in love with Viola.

Although the original Shakespearean play is set in Illyria, Muson places these beloved characters and their stories in eighteenth century Russia during the Christmas season. With this setting change came Russian songs and traditions, and Muson’s change of scenery was a very enjoyable, entertaining touch. Other than the setting, the plot is accurately followed.

It is a tale that warns of how truly messy love can be, but in a comical, satirical manner. The chances that such events occur in and of themselves are hilarious, but this UMBC production put its own little twist on the Shakespearean play that makes it all the more hilarious. The play’s actors are extraordinary. Their expressions and use of tone made the typically difficult-to-understand Shakespearean prose appealing and comprehensible. They delivered their lines beautifully, and the crowd couldn’t help but applaud in the midst of the play because the performances were so great.

This comedy drew endless laughs from the crowd who couldn’t help but laud the actors’ jovial manners. The simplest actions such as the decorating of a Christmas tree or hiding from another character on stage were performed in a comical manner, keeping the audience’s attention in focus, not wanting to miss even a second of hilarity.

Actress Kathrin Bizzarro portrayed Malvolia, the female equivalent to the original male Malvolio. She characterized this known cruel antagonist with humor and self-degradation in a way that inspired empathy and admiration from the audience. Her performance turned one of the most hated characters in literature into a crowd favorite.

Costume designer, Eric Abele, showcased phenomenal work in this play. The costumes added to the characters. For example, when in mourning, Olivia, played by Talyiah Dickens, was dressed head to toe in a black, extravagant gown laced in dark embroidery. Feste, the jester, played by Shubhangi Kuchibhotla, wore a dress embracing numerous bright colors topped with a green hat in order to visually show her comical presence.

Anyone who adores the Shakespearean play would love to see this hilarious, entertaining interpretation. Those who have never read the original text are sure to fall in love with the story and pure hilarity it shares after watching this UMBC production. Overall, UMBC’s presentation and interpretation of William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” was a huge success. It will be performed from Nov. 9 to the 19th in the Proscenium Theatre in the Performing Arts and Humanities building. Every student is encouraged to come and join these kooky characters for a crazy play and night full of laughs.