Sit tight while the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company navigates its way through a convoluted mess of a shipwreck to open “Twelfth Night.” Once the talented troupe lands in Illyria, the most delightful evening of Shakespeare the Boston Common has ever seen unfolds in splendid fashion.
Under the impeccable direction of Steven Maler, this “Night” finds the perfect blend of quintessential Shakespearean dialogue and contemporary Americana. While Cristina Todesco’s set and Nancy Leary’s costumes scream Miami (in a great way), the actors feel and sound much more traditional.
They nicely avoid the all-too-common pitfall of reciting Shakespeare, instead completely embodying their characters in consistently stellar performances.
Marianna Bassham has quietly amassed a body of work that earns her a place on the list of Boston’s finest actors. Her incredible turn as Viola/Cesario flies her to the top of that list, putting her center stage, under the brightest lights of all, giving everyone the opportunity to appreciate her subtle yet multi-dimensional work.
Crowd favorite Conner Christiansen, sporting a platinum Mohawk and hot pink skinny suit, delivers an impressive turn as swishy Sir Andrew Aguecheek. He and Cesario do battle in a riotous, giggle-inducing fight scene that feels more “Ru Paul’s Drag Race” than “Twelfth Night.”
Fred Sullivan, Jr. also shines as Malvolio, though his yellow tights and unsightly bulge may make you shudder. Sheree Galpert is delightful as his wisteria-haired nemesis Maria, while Robert Pemberton is superb as the ever-intoxicated Toby Belch.
Sometimes people forget that Shakespeare is supposed to be fun. Grab a blanket, bring a picnic and experience “Twelfth Night” the way the Bard intended it to be; funny, bawdy and wildly entertaining.
If you go
Through August 10
Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common
All performances are free and open to the public.