- Twelfth Night, and: The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and: Henry V
The set for SSC's Dickensian Twelfth Night was festooned for the holidays. One door and three floor-length, small-paned windows, adorned with holly and ivy bunting, opened onto a brick piazza. Above the stage five lanterns decorated with red and white streamers cast soft blue light onto the bricks, and the two huge concrete pillars were painted white to make them seem less obtrusive. The company entered the stage from the lobby caroling merrily as patrons seated themselves. Here was a merry bunch of strolling players come from wassailing to entertain us with a tall tale fit for a winter's night.
Among the ruffians in Olivia's house, motley was the only word. Costume designer Melanie Burgess must have scoured every theatre wardrobe and thrift store in Seattle to create so many mismatched outfits. The innumerable clashing patterns of yellow clothing worn by Darragh Kennan perfectly imaged his fine performance of a hilariously empty-headed Sir Andrew. Feste—part traveling Victorian troubadour, part Toby's drinking partner, part willful revenger—suggested an eastern gypsy in his baggy pants, long beard, curling moustache, and silk turban. Toby [End Page 547] Belch wore a magician's top hat as if to legitimate his chaotic chicanery while stumbling, bottle in hand, across the stage. While the metaphoric disorder was a bit heavy-handed, it did offset Malvolio's formal attire: black frock coat, plaid pants, white shirt and black tie, white spats, and red vest. Olivia wore head-to-toe black until stunned by Viola, after which she appeared in an inviting purple velvet gown. Viola staggered through the open door (Shine reversed 1.1 and 1.2) in a ragged blue dress, and thereafter appeared in black pants, green shirt, and orange waist-sash that was perfectly duplicated in Sebastian. Susannah Millonzi as Viola and Tim Gouran as Sebastian looked remarkably alike: both were of slender build and similar height, and both wore pony-tails of similar length. To the extent that Twelfth Night is a play about human desire irrespective of characters' gender, Shine's casting of Millonzi and Gouran crystallized that point. When in act five Sebastian and Viola briefly stood with their backs to spectators, they were indistinguishable.
To make Viola's quandary credible, spectators must believe that she is truly in love with Orsino. Given the vivacity of Susannah Millonzi's stage presence and the energy...