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Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT through the Eyes of Teen Critics

Every season a group of High School students participate in STC’s Teen Critic program. These students attend the productions, participate in workshops and craft critical reviews reflecting their unique perspectives on the performances. Fourteen young critics are participating in this year’s program and below are excerpts from some of their reviews.

Click here to find out more about the Teen Critic program.

Pria Dahiya, Junior
Bethesda Chevy-Chase High School

What do you get when you throw Gucci, Shakespeare, scooters, and a Christmas tree into an airport? The three-hour party that is the Shakespeare Theater Company’s Twelfth Night. This exuberant production is fashionable, fabulous and laugh-until-you-cough funny. You laugh and laugh and laugh and then (if you’re me) try to figure out where you can buy a certain character’s outfit and then laugh some more.

Molly Marsh, Sophomore
Oakton High School

This production welcomes Shakespeare neophytes with an accessible interpretation of a centuries-old script, but also provides a fresh take for those already familiar with the story. Twelfth Night is full of unhinged plot twists, so while the audience knows exactly what each character is thinking, the show still treats them with hilariously shocking surprises from characters that clash with their unique personalities and differing reactions to their absurd situations.

Emily Mayo, Sophomore
Walt Whitman High School

Twelfth Night is the classic case of twins and mistaken identity, where the sister disguises herself as the brother for convenience after an unfortunate accident in which she believes he died. The brother, meanwhile, is still alive, and great confusion and hilarity ensue.

Much of this hilarity is due to the superb comedic timing of the actors. Antoinette Robinson is a personable protagonist as Viola, and Hannah Yelland and Bhavesh Patel play the nobles Olivia and Orsino with all the heightened drama required.

Maggie Klein, Senior
Oakton High School

Director Ethan McSweeny’s refreshing take mixes melancholy and mirth and highlights themes of love and identity. This feat is carried out through Lee Savage’s adaptable airport sets and Jennifer Moeller’s vibrant costumes. The unique setting gives the show a transient vibe that dances between the unreal and the too real; pillow-covered luggage piles comprise house furniture moments after we depart an airport gate so realistic that it’s hard to remember we’re not actually at Dulles. The ripped jeans of gritty modern air travel contrast with the shamrock-greens, floral suits, and dragon-embossed robes of the festive, timeless Illyria that make this Feast of Fools a feast for the eyes as well.

Henry Wiebe, Senior
Montgomery Blair High School

Derek Smith transforms Malvolio, a role that is often portrayed as campy and ultimately forgettable, into a dark and complex (yet still comically entertaining) character that stuns the audience into a meditative silence in the show’s final minutes.

Trevor Ross, Senior

I felt the three main standouts of the cast were Sir Toby Belch (Andrew Weems), Andrew Aguecheek (Jim Lichtscheidl), and Feste (Heath Saunders). Weem’s Sir Toby Belch being both a drunken jokester and Lichtscheidl’s Sir Andrew zestful moron make for comedic scenes that have the energetic feel of The Three Stooges or Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Heath Saunders brings cleverness and wit to Feste who is a “smarter than average fool” that sings multiple songs throughout the play. The melodies range from somber to cheerful and each one is the main highlight of his performance.

Rachel Wei, Senior
Thomas S. Wootton High School

Arguably the most entertaining element of the play was Jeff Allen Young (ensemble) and Jack Henry Doyle (ensemble) cruising around the stage on scooters. At one point, Young was riding on a scooter with one hand while enjoying a Ring Pop with the other. Both Young and Doyle were masters at riding around at top speed while still managing to steer clear of the audience members that were sitting only two feet from the set. The scooter riding also served a more practical purpose, conveying the fun-loving and light-hearted mood of Orsino’s house despite his lovesickness.

Isabel Echavarria, Junior
Bethesda Chevy-Chase High School

Ethan McSweeny configures the stage in a thrust arrangement, lines the floor with a gray and washed out rug, and arranges airport seat racks to create an airport within the theater. The story of Twelfth Night begins with a shipwreck, so McSweeny choses to make this event a plane crash in his production, seamlessly merging the plot with the new setting. For additional set pieces, suitcases drop from the ceiling during the plane crash, and provide props for various scenes in the show. The show cleverly connected the reality of the modern Christmas season and Twelfth Night.

Becca Kurtz, Sophomore
School Without Walls

Besides the visual shift from Shakespeare’s time, the music, composed by Lindsay Jones, brings the whole performance into modernity. The first instrument is introduced on the janitorial cart high school students may recognize, and pairs itself with the lovely vocals of the fool, Feste (Heath Saunders) who, in his full body jumpsuit, looks a lot like the buskers who regularly spice up your morning commute. His voice is inviting and emotive, and I, having never seen Twelfth Night on stage, was unsure whether his musical interludes were part of Shakespeare’s original or later additions. He, accompanied at times by the higher pitched melody and guitar of Curio (Matthew Deitchman), makes the melancholy poetry of Feste’s wise and goofy character all the more relevant. These are no longer old-timey tunes, but beautifully drawn out songs that sound like they belong not just in our century, but in our decade. If you can’t tell what the lyrics mean, you will definitely understand what the voice connotes.

Douglas Griffin, Senior
Wakefield County Day School

The Shakespeare Theatre has truly achieved the height of spectacular with this new production of Shakespeare’s classic comedy. The entire action of the play is surrounded by carefully manicured dramatic effects and constant cascades of color and motion. The combination of set, light, and sound are truly stunning, and the use of the thrust stage surrounds the audience with the action.

Ester Luna, Freshman
Washington International School

I adored this production of Twelfth Night, and would recommend this show to absolutely anyone. It is the perfect play for entire families, since even though kids might not fully understand Shakespeare, they can still enjoy the bright costumes, busy set, and comedic characters.

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