Merry Matter for a May Morning
Over the last two weekends, MIT’s Community Players brought one of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies to audiences in Kresge Little Theater. “Twelfth Night” (alternately titled “As You Will”) tells the story of a young woman named Viola and her twin brother Sebastian. After a shipwreck, the two are separated and each thinks the other was drowned. For safety, Viola dresses up in her brother’s costume, takes on a man’s identity, and is hired by the local Duke, Orsino. Viola is asked to woo a noblewoman, Olivia, on Orsino’s behalf; instead, Olivia falls in love with Viola, thinking her to be an eligible man. Somewhat predictably, chaos ensues as Viola and Sebastian are mistaken for one another, but all is sorted out in the end when the two twins are suddenly reunited.
What makes the play most enjoyable, though, are the intricately entangled side plots, involving Sebastian’s sea captain friend Antonia, Olivia’s drunken cousin Toby, an out-of-work jester named Feste, an incompetent young suitor named Sir Andrew, and the puritanical steward Malvolio. The cast works well together, partly due to the wonderful direction of Marion Leeds Carroll, herself a veteran of MIT’s Gilbert and Sullivan players.
Adding an extra dimension to the Bard’s rich text, the play incorporated a quintet of musicians on Elizabethan instruments to complete the mood. In Duke Orsino’s words, “If music be the food of love, play on.”