BAR HARBOR —Well they pulled it off!
After a first performance weather cancellation, the joint Barn Arts Collective and Acadia Community Theater production of Shakespeare’s comedy “Twelfth Night” opened Sunday afternoon on the sloping seaside lawn of Saltair Inn in Bar Harbor. It was a triumph on every level.
Shakespeare wrote “Twelfth Night” as a zany comedy full of mishaps, misidentifications, and misguided romances, but never could the Bard have imagined the heights of hilarity achieved by this little crew of indefatigable actors.
In an astonishing tour de force of energy, acting, timing and costume changing, four actors managed to play a dozen roles of varying sexes and personalities in a way that left little doubt throughout the play who they were, even when they were playing two roles at once!
Let’s start at the beginning with director Andrew Simon, who introduced us to all the characters we were about to meet in a clever rap number aided and abetted by a “posse” of lively ACT performers.
We meet Marisol Rosa-Shapiro, a small dynamo of a woman who plays the lovely gentlewoman Viola. After being shipwrecked on the island of Illyria she disguises herself as a young man named Cesario. Rosa-Shapiro also plays the devious and tough talkin’ lady-in-waiting Maria, as well as her own charming twin brother Sebastian. Got that?
Viola, disguised as Cesario, is hired by Illyria’s handsome, self-satisfied Duke Orsino (Lindsey Pearlman) to be a go-between for him in his pursuit of the grieving Lady Olivia, Maria’s boss (also played by Pearlman). And, oh yes, Pearlman plays another of her own suitors, as well, Sir Andrew, a complete dweeb who fancies himself as quite a lady’s man. Still with me?
Of course, Viola falls for Orsino and Olivia falls for Viola whom she thinks is Cesario and Sir Andrew falls flat on his face due to a misplaced — wait for it — banana peel.
Now comes the amazing Katie Melby who turns each of her smaller four roles into individual glittering gems. As she morphs from a blustery sea captain, a cagey, new agey fool, the heroic Antonio, and Olivia’s factotum, the dreadfully obsequious Malvolio, Melby brings to mind the comic actor Jim Carrey with her exaggerated long-limbed gestures and facial expressions.
And finally, there is Andrew Lynch who has the distinction of playing just one role — Olivia’s cousin, the drunken Sir Toby Belch, who in this iteration of the play is a deejay with a whole posse of followers who tag along after him about like groupies and keep his vibe and party going.
It should be mentioned here that interspersed between all the hijinks and hilarity are some lovely romantic and poignant moments. One of these comes when Viola, while disguised as Cesario, reveals her love for Orsino in a speech so captivating that Olivia is smitten, along with the whole Saltair audience.
The play has some terrifically fun song and dance interludes as well and some wonderful “enhancements” that Shakespeare certainly would have employed had he been writing in this century.
Toby’s penchant for tweeting on his smartphone, for instance. There’s also a game show involving the audience and a police captain who resembles Super Mario.
Another great addition is a bi-lingual component, with Viola speaking Spanish when she first arrives in Illyria, as well as an exchange with her twin brother, whom you might recall, Rosa-Shapiro also plays.
How she and Pearlman, who argues with herself as Orsino and Olivia, manage this doubling up trick you will have to find out for yourselves when Twelfth Night moves to the Northeast Harbor Marina this weekend Aug. 25 and 26 at 3 p.m. Admission is by donation.