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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, August 6, 2003

Excellent cast makes for good 'Night'

By Joseph T. Rozmiarek
Advertiser Drama Critic

 •  'Twelfth Night'

8 p.m. today and Saturday; 4 p.m. Sunday

Paliku Theatre, Windward Community College


The third and final entrant into this summer's Shakespeare festival at Paliku Theatre gets most everything right.

"Twelfth Night" is a silly, romantic comedy based on personal foibles and mistaken identities, set in a remote and exotic location that softens the satire directed at Elizabethan character types.

Director Harry Wong III and his cast embrace it with a playful hug that allows it to be both funny and sexy.

The plot turns on Duke Orsino's unrequited love for Lady Olivia and brother-and-sister twins, separated by shipwreck — Viola and Sebastian. Orsino enlists Viola — disguised as a young man — to be his go-between in pleading his case with Olivia.

Soon, both royal characters find themselves falling in love with her. When Sebastian turns up in the same neighborhood, nobody's quite sure who's attracted to whom.

The primary subplot turns on the mischief created by Olivia's hangers-on, including a couple of drunken knights, a maid, and an insufferably priggish butler. Wong stages the resulting nonsense with relish.

He anticipates the Duke's opening line — "If music be the food of love, play on" — with a quartet of rhythmically challenged courtiers as a warm-up act.

These musicians are blissfully unaware that a trumpet, 'ukulele, and bongo drums do not make a pleasing ensemble. They dance, quarrel, accost arriving young females in the audience and reappear throughout the play.

But the basic success of the production comes from the spoken word, and just about everyone in the cast gives the dialogue excellent clarity and high feeling. Add plenty of delightful staging, and the play is able to hold attention despite its playing time of more than three hours.

Moses Goods is excellent as a distracted Duke with flowers in his hair and an overriding, hand-wringing passion.

Danel Verdugo counters as a surprisingly lustful Olivia, all too ready to give up mourning for a dead father when sparked by Viola and Sebastian.

Kathy Hunter neatly carries off the britches role as Viola, giving it a comically confused tone independent of its gender confusion.

Watch for more delightful surprises as Olivia seduces Sebastian up three flights of stairs to her bedroom — backward, erupting into hysterical giggles at every landing.

"Twelfth Night" is the successful finish to the second Shakespeare Festival at Windward Community College.