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Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title Twelfth Night
Organization Roseville Theatre Arts Academy
Date(s) of show July 20-28, 2012
Reviewer Dick Frantzreb
Review I’ve seen theatrical productions of “Shakespeare” that were hardly recognizable as his work. This was something different. Roseville Theatre Arts Academy has moved Twelfth Night from the fictional kingdom of Illyria to the old West. But in the process, they have maintained Shakespeare’s language. There were edits with references to San Francisco, and Olivia’s home becomes Olivia’s saloon: but this is Shakespeare – no question. And the most remarkable thing about the transition is that all the characters speak with a western (or southern) drawl, which they maintain remarkably well throughout the play. Adding the drawl to Shakespearean English, which is not easy to understand anyway, causes some of the dialogue to be lost to the typical listener, but unless you’re an insistent Shakespearean purist the effect is hilarious – and entertaining.

I’m not sure that this would be a good introduction to Shakespeare (or this play) for someone unfamiliar with the language or this plot, and I noticed that the children in the audience responded mostly to the frequent physical humor. But the acting (some of it excellent) really illustrates the meaning of the arcane language, and makes the plot reasonably easy to follow for those unfamiliar with it. And I don’t see how anyone (except the youngest) could come away without an appreciation for the elegance of Shakespeare’s language. Those most familiar with Twelfth Night will be most likely to find the delight in this drawl-delivered adaptation. If they don’t, then a pox on the churlish varmints.

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