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Twelfth Night | Midsommer Flight at Lincoln Park Conservatory, December 6th, 2019

3.5 out of 4 stars
(Originally published on Chicago Stage Standard)

Midsommer Flight’s 5th annual holiday production of Twelfth Night is a treat! Performing amid the flora and fauna of the Lincoln Park Conservatory, Dylan S. Roberts directs a new modern dress take on the company’s seasonal tradition.

The play revolves around a brother Sebastian and sister Viola, who are shipwrecked and separated. They find their ways into new friendships, love interests and a case of mistaken identity. The most noticeable changes from Dylan S. Robert’s 2017 version of the work is the inclusion of Meagan Beattie’s early 20th century costume design. The garb is fully of glitz and glam – very appropriate for us entering into the next decade 2020. Beattie describes their design choices as being extravagant to highlight the masked inner pain of the characters.  A wonderful display of attention to detail in drop-waist lines and moments of gold accessories for embellishment.

I have seen my fair number of Twelfth Nights and the running theme being purposefully “swept away” by the situation of mistaken identity and into the heart of the Duke Orison who is seeking the favor of Countess Olivia. Jackie Seijo breathes new life into this Viola giving her sharp-tongued passion that emblazons the heart. Seijo performs beautifully the wit and woe their character experiences. The strongest portion being the ending to this epic production – which is tear inducing. Beth Wolf’s script adaptation and as producing Artistic Director aides in turning this classic tale into something profound for the 21st century. The timeless theme of gender bending and submissive feminist cry is transcended into something far more heartwarming for the new age. Wolf recently directed earlier this year The Suffrage Plays at Artemisia and Jeff Recommended Non-Player Character at Red Theater. Their credits and achievements go on and on, so needless to say with Wolf’s hand along with Director Dylan S. Roberts’s has definitely made a profound impact of this year’s production.

All the actors were extremely talented and expressive in manner. While I wish I could gush about every single person, I will say the ensemble and the laughable loveable Sir Andrew Agnew played by Jason Goff all contributed immensely to the comedy. The performance was hilarious and added just the right amount of frivolity paired with Zach Tabor’s Sir Toby Belch.  The original musical score was out of this world with Baily Savage leading the ensemble musicians/actors in several tunes as the fool Feste. Savage hones in on Feste’s grounded rationales often exchanged through jokes and folly and keeps the excitement rolling. Yet, where Savage’s performance really surpasses is their beautiful singing voice. Masterfully weaving between dialogue and song, their vocal range is stunning and will tug at your heartstrings just as Feste intends. Savage’s previous Chicago work includes Shakespeare project of Chicago, intrinsic theatre company and their work as a member of Jacaranda collective. They has also previously spent five years at the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Midsommer Flight is a nonprofit theatre company bringing world-class performances of Shakespeare’s work to Chicago communities. The production is part of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s “Night Out in the Parks” initiative that provides world-class performances in Chicago’s neighborhoods throughout the year. They have brought the joy and word of Shakespeare to over 10,000 audience members and hope to continue their work in the years to come. Summer productions, performed in parks across Chicago, are presented free of charge (donations gratefully accepted), while the annual Twelfth Night productions are pay-what-you-can. Go support Midsommer and their continued efforts to bring Shakespeare to the community! I highly recommend Twelfth Night, you won’t leave disappointed!  

Twelfth Night plays Thursdays through Sundays at 7:3pm until December 22nd, 2019. For tickets and more information, please visit www.midsommerflight.com