Enjoy a merry 'Twelfth Night'

by Will Eckhert | 5/16/94 5:00am

Friday night was a very special night. Green Key, nothing: it was the opening night of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" at The Grange in Thetford Hill, Vt. In a traditional performance of this comedic classic, Vermont locals proudly displayed their acting prowess and, especially, their love for the Bard as he was meant to be seen -- and felt.

Edward Tyler, as a delightfully stuffy and deliberate Malvolio, led the cast in an evening of general mirth that kept the audience howling. Tyler bore the measured air of a professional as he drew chortles and applause down to the final "I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you."

Tom Bailey was solidly in character as the irrepressible Sir Toby Belch, and his sidekick, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, was hilariously reproduced by Charles Glazier. Kevin Fitzpatrick gave an over-the-top performance as Feste, and Kim Norman and Nancy Tiedemann held their own as Viola and Maria, respectively.

But the real strength of this "Twelfth Night" was its authenticity. With the exception of modern lighting, it was executed just as it would have been in its very first run some 390 years ago. A musical quartet featuring 16th-century style instrumentation accompanied the performance to good effect. Props and set pieces were kept to a minimum to emphasize the dramatic action itself. But director Nancy Tiedemann was far from conservative when it counted: the vital bawdiness in the text was aired in all its filthy majesty.

There are a few rough spots, to be sure, but such is to be expected from a relatively low-budget production. But this "Twelfth Night" proves that glitz is no substitute for human energy, sheer talent and especially a profound love and respect for the original spirit of Shakespeare. Go see it-- it's well worth the trip.

The Parish Players will perform "Twelfth Night" at the Grange in Thetford Hill, Vt. on May 20, 21, 27, 28 and June 3 and 4 at 8 p.m. Call (802) 785-4344 for ticket information.

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