The Her Majesty & Sons production of “Twelfth Night” is a delightful, quick-paced bit of very midsummer madness that manages to achieve theatrical intimacy even in this time of renewed pandemic restrictions.
The outdoor production takes place at the D.C. War Memorial — that fun-size Jefferson Memorial sans statue that sits in a wooded grove near the MLK Memorial. The show is done in the round, with both audience and cast under the dome. COVID precautions are enforced, which treats attendees to a top-notch, up-close show after more than a year of distance theatre.
Her Majesty & Sons’ “Twelfth Night” is a triumphant debut…
The show is clearly a love’s labour for the newly formed troupe, which includes regional veterans like Jessica Lefkow and Ryan Sellers in addition to rising new talents like Tori Boutin. It is a promising debut for a company that will hopefully grace the area scene for years to come, and an excellent choice for a first show, since “Twelfth Night” is a true ensemble piece.
Rachel Felstein, who has worked with such D.C. mainstays as Arena Stage and Taffety Punk, as well as with regional and national companies, sets the scene as Malvolio, greeting audience members as they arrive. Felstein focuses more on the character’s officiousness than her pomposity, making this famously loathed character a bit more sympathetic than usual.
Lefkow has perfect balance as Toby Belch, a besozzled character that is often overplayed. Lefkow’s Belch is more of a bon vivant than a staggering oaf, bringing a light touch to Belch’s scheming with Boutin’s Andrew Aguecheek. (Belch tends to upstage Aguecheek in many productions, but here, the two are more evenly matched, due to the great chemistry between the two actors.)
The shenanigans of the houseguests are complemented nicely by the sweet interactions between Anna DiGiovanni’s Viola and Terrance Fleming’s Orsino. While both — especially Fleming — are also quite funny, they shine brightest in the scenes of the growing affection between the two.
This production is also a musical, with snippets of songs from the 60s and early 70s integrated into the story effectively. Much of the cast does double duty on instruments during their time offstage.
Her Majesty & Sons’ “Twelfth Night” is a triumphant debut, and an excellent choice for theatre devotees seeking a return to live attendance after a year away.
Running Time: 90 minutes with no intermission.
“Twelfth Night” runs through August 15, 2021, at the D.C. War Memorial, 19th Street and Independence Avenue SW in Washington. Click here for tickets and information.