Sunday, August 6, 2017

Fringe Festival 2017: "What You Will"

Day: 3

Show: 11

Title: What You Will

Category: Drama

By: Jammed Desk Productions

Created by: Henry Ellen Sansone, Sam Bates Norum, Kiaran Hartnett, Danylo Loutchko, and Laura Torgeson

Location: Phoenix Theatre

Summary: An adaptation of Shakespeare's comedy Twelfth Night focusing on Viola's transition to becoming Cesario.

Highlights: Examples of cross-dressing abound in Shakespeare's plays (maybe because all parts were played by men in his day), but what if it's not simple disguise but rather an individual exploring their gender identity and searching for their more authentic self? This talented group of young artists ask that question of Twelfth Night. They've created a short version of the play that still makes sense by cutting out all the stuff about Olivia's relatives and servants and focusing on the separated twins (Viola/Cesario and Sebastian) and those that love them, the Duke Orsino and the Lady Olivia. The five creator/actors (Danylo Loutchko, Henry Ellen Sansone, Kiaran Hartnett, Laura Torgeson, Sam Bates Norum) are clear and compelling as they recite Shakespeare's words, using lovely and haunting music to help set the tone (composed by Kiaran). The story plays out as usual until the end, when Cesario is supposed to transform back into Viola, but this time he decides to remain Cesario. Even though Cesario does seem to love Orsino, he chooses to leave and remain his authentic self rather than be forced to return to the life he left behind. This is a fascinating look at a classic and a new but legitimate interpretation. If music be the food of love, play on!

Read all of my Fringe mini-reviews here.