Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Midsummer's Twelfth Night

Identity confusion is going to be rampant while Neptune, the planet of illusion, traverses a retrograde path through the 1rst House, the house of self. There are always challenges when it comes to knowing oneself, and this is a difficult time for those who do not have a firm grasp on who they are. There may be a strong desire for escape from the self.

Nobody does identity confusion better than Shakespeare. Last night, I had the fortune to attend a production of Twelfth Night at the Delacorte in Central Park. This is the first show that I've ever seen at the Delacorte and the first thing that immediately hit the audience was the set. I do not always notice the set when I attend a show, but this set was beautifully constructed with faux grass and rolling hills. Trees dotted the landscape. It truly looked as I would have pictured Illyria to look. The advantage that the Delcorte offers a show like this is the natural outside environment.

Having been invited by a friend, I had no prior knowledge of the cast and I was surprised to see that Raul Esparza would be playing Orsino, Audra McDonald as Olivia, and Anne Hathaway would be taking on the gender-bender, Viola/Cesario. Knowing the first two to be well-known for their voices and aware that Anne was also making more use of her singing experience, I wondered aloud if the show were a musical adaptation. I was assured that it was not. We took our seats in the section that provided closed captioning, something I had not experienced except for at the Metropolitan Opera. There was an electronic board in front of our section, not blocking the stage, of course, that would scroll with the lines. I think it highly enriched the show for me, as a bibliophile and a writer, I absolutely love words and there are very few people who achieve the same resplendent poeticism that Shakespeare does. There's something to be said for reading a play and watching it come to life before you.

And come to life it did. From the moment the actors entered the stage, we were transported to Illyria. There were fabulous integrations of music throughout the show and the musicians were not kept separate from the actors, often stepping from the musical world directly into the Illyrian landscape. From the depths of the stage emerged Viola and her seafaring comrades. I was expecting fabulous performances from the well known actors (at least to me), and I was delighted to find that that extended through the entire cast, from those loveable characters like Maria and Sirs Toby and Andrew to the soldiers who stood by, silently in character, and adding depth to the scenes. I was never taken out of the show.

As the sky pinked with sunset, a full moon (in Capricorn) rose high over the stage, sending beams down upon Belvedere Castle in the background. Even the elements seemed to sense the drama that was happening onstage and Nature herself appeared as a character. The air seemed to pick up whenever the drama increased onstage. It added an extra dimension to the show.

To see Shakespeare's work come to life is always a treat and a treasure. To get the opportunity to experience that in Central Park in an open air forum was truly magical. If you get the chance to see this production, I highly recommend that you take it.

If music be the food of love, play on!


  1. neptune can also add a touch of glamour to your life, as it did here.

  2. It was highly glamorous, indeed, Shawn! :)