Pig Iron Theatre Co. Revels In TWELFTH NIGHT

by Arnie Finkel

Let me say right off that the Pig Iron Theatre Company’s performance of TWELFTH NIGHT was everything you could wish for. It was riotous, rollicking, raunchy, musical, well acted, well directed, and totally enjoyable.

James Sugg and Josh Machiz are members of the cast of Pig Iron Theatre Company's TWELFTH NIGHT, running as part of the Philly Fringe/Live Arts Festival at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre through September 17. (Photo credit: Jason Frank Rothenberg)

One of the bugaboos of doing Shakespeare is the diction of the performers. No problem here. The whole cast spoke the dialogue as clearly and as naturally as possible. The athleticism of everyone was a wonder. Maiko Matsushima’s set allowed everyone to slide, rappel, climb steps, and any possible combination of the above, while delivering the puns and poetry beautifully.

This cast is the best example of ensemble playing I have seen in quite a while. Everyone was uniformly excellent. Andy Paterson’s creation of Sir Andrew Aguecheek was a welcome comic decision. Sarah Sanford as Viola had just the right touch, especially in the scene where Dito van Reigersberg as Duke Orsino, the love sick noble, reacted to Come away Death. Their reactions made the scene. Brigit Huppuch as the love besotted Olivia and Carleigh E. Parker as the minx of a servant, Maria, made the most of every comic possibility.

The difficult role of the much abused Malvolio was in good hands with Michael Sean McGuinness. His every move was a great part of the fun.

Philadelphia has such a wealth of local talent. James Sugg as Sir Toby Belch was marvelous as always. I would go to see anything with Scott Greer in it. His talent always amazes me. In his hands the fool Feste was a font of music and merriment.

The use of Gypsy music composed by Rosie Langabeer was huge plus. It added materially to the fun. The musicians got into the spirit of the work physically as well as adding their own quirks to the lunacy.

I loved the way Tyler Micoleau’s lighting design spot lit several scenes. Major kudos to Director Dan Rothenberg for his out of the box reading of the text. The way he moved the action was superb. His sense of comedy is awe inspiring.

Everyone on stage had a ball and, therefore, so did the audience. If you love Shakespeare, or just good theater, or simply like to laugh, don’t miss this gem.

Text by William Shakespeare
Music by Rosie Langabeer
Directed by Dan Rothenberg
September 1 to 17, 2011
Pig Iron Theatre Company
at Suzanne Roberts Theatre
480 South Broad Street Philadelphia, PA

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