Repertory Theatre honors Shakespeare with ‘Twelfth Night’

The Nafe Katter Theatre, located on Bolton Road by Storrs Center, is home to the Connecticut Repertory Theatre's production of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night." (File photo/The Daily Campus)

The Connecticut Repertory Theatre graced the Nafe Katter Theatre stage on Tuesday night with a skillful and enthusiastic production of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.”

Considered one of Shakespeare’s most successful comedies, “Twelfth Night” is a love story turned upside-down. The characters were put into awkward and hysterical situations that kept the audience laughing from start to finish.

The production could not have come at a better time as we enter the holiday season.  Under the direction of Victor Maog, named one of American Theatre Magazine’s 20 Theatre Workers to Watch, the cast was lively and thoroughly entertaining onstage.  The production’s language, movement and design accompanied their performances harmoniously.

“When the holidays come around most of us find ourselves singing the words or humming the tune of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas.’ But we rarely stop to think about the origin of the song. The song stems from the celebration of the Twelve Days of Christmas, the same celebration that sets the stage for Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night,’” fifth-semester theater studies major Molly Hamilton wrote in the playbill.

The set, designed by fifth-semester design and tech major Brett Calvo, expressed the topsy-turvy circumstances of the play and recreated key aspects of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, such as the three-quarter round stage and minimalist style. The nature of the play was embodied by one scenic element in particular: an upside-down tree hanging in midair.

“We didn’t want anything overwhelming in the set changes. We wanted to create a space like Shakespeare’s Globe,” Calvo said. “Symbolic elements were present to say that not everything is what it seems.”

The stage came alive throughout the performance, with the lights seeming to emanate from the performers and the stage thanks to Lighting Designer Justin Poruban, a seventh-semester design and tech major.

The costumes, designed by fifth semester MFA costume design student Tuoxi Wu, expressed all the characters’ personalities and roles.  A prime example was the dress of Olivia, which reflected her lively personality. This was complimented by the energetic and vivacious performance of a seventh-semester acting major Madison Coppola.

Language in The Bard’s plays attracted attention from The New York Times earlier this year when it was released that playwrights commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival would rewrite 39 of Shakespeare’s plays. The question remains as to how such a restructuring will affect the presentation of Shakespeare’s stories.

But for the time being, CRT’s “Twelfth Night” shows audiences that this classic story is as raucous and entertaining as ever.


Matthew Gilbert is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.gilbert@uconn.edu.