Going to the theater in a town an hour away didn't really sound like much of a good idea, but it was my first real chance to do something fun with kids in a long time. Since they didn't have school the next day, I decided to go for it.
Sometimes in this world of special effects, surround sound, and TV-on-Demand, we forget that the true spirit of storytelling isn't in digital magic, but in the spirits and hearts of the storyteller and listeners. Telling a story person-to-person does more than entertain. It lets the story grow, shape itself to our lives and remind us why we live. Live theatre captures our imagination, and Twelfth Night at the Echo Theater in Provo is an example worth going out of your way to experience.
Picture a beautifully crafted stage, the colors a dreamlike mix of naturals and splashes of bright turquoise, burgundy, and yellow. Musical instruments are scattered around the stage. Music opens and closes the story. The lines are delivered in flawless Shakespearean English sprinkled with modern vernacular and phrasing.
Matthew Speer, playing Sir Toby, totally steals the stage. His "drunken" antics tie the whole typically-Shakespearian twisty plot into a smooth(er) thread. My 5- and 8-year-old couldn't stop laughing. Every movement and facial expression was skillfully and precisely sloppy. Sir Andrew (Parker Olson) plays a perfect conspirator. Feste was played by Robbin Ivie and Celene Anderson in a stroke of brilliance that harmonized the crazy flow of the entire play. I couldn't believe how they spoke simultaneously and handed the originally one-person lines back and forth without a single stumble.
While Sebastian (Carter Peterson) had absolutely no qualms about falling in with a strange (beautiful and rich) woman, his "other half" Viola/Cesario (Sarah Butler) portrayed enough qualms about the whole farce for both of them. My girls couldn't stop laughing, especially while Malvolio (Leah Hodson) read Olivia's (Sophie Determan) supposed love letter to her.
The director Eve Speer artfully brings the true spirit of Shakespeare solidly into the modern era. I'd be surprised if old William himself wasn't there to watch and applaud. I was so glad to take my kids. So long as you don't mind exposing them to the good-humored mild randiness that is the hallmark of Shakespeare's comedies, by all means take your whole family. Even my five-year-old wasn't bored for a moment, though she was sadly disappointed when it was over.
It was totally worth the drive.