When I saw this popular Shakespeare comedy at 17, it seemed to be all about the cute Duke and the woman disguised as his male page. Viola secretly loves the Duke, even though the Duke loves Countess Olivia, who actually loves Viola - she does cut a sweet boyish figure in her page uniform.
With this Butler University version, middle-aged-me finally noticed the story's other half about a singing clown and a drunken lord's plot to convince an aging steward that Olivia is in love with him. Within this subplot, I like the steward Malvolio (Peter Denz) posing ridiculously in yellow socks and how director Elaina Artemiev uses actresses in multiple male roles. However, key performances rely too much on the sway of drunkenness and song and not enough on true comedic finesse, which may be the most difficult acting achievement for students and professionals. The primary romance isn't all it could be, because the Duke (Raphael Schwartzman) is too clueless and Viola (Leslie Lank) is too quick to love him, but Olivia (Jacqueline Vouga) has got the right roaming touch of a woman in lust. I've seen Butler students excel at drama wrapped in comedy (The Merchant of Venice) and at a comedy universally mistaken for drama (The Cherry Orchard, also directed by Artemiev). Perhaps it is true that dying is easy and Twelfth Night is hard. Directed by Elaina Artemiev.
Butler University, Lilly Hall, www.butler.edu; 940-9247