Adapted by Max Tachis
Palo Alto Players
In his adaptation for Palo Alto Players of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Max Tachis takes the romantic comedy’s early line – “If music be the food of love, play on” – and makes a feast of it. Even before the curtain opens, a snazzy, zippy singer with eyes that twinkle and fingers that snap is joined by a five-piece band as she intones with jazzy excellence three numbers from the 1920s: “Bye, Bye, Blackbird,” “Baby Face,” and “Thou Swell.” She then sends the band scurrying off stage and transforms herself into a Vaudeville-like clown, pulling out (with much exaggeration of effort) a small table with various props like a slide whistle and a Groucho Marx mask that she employs for quick laughs. She ends by using a rain stick, a sheet of metal, and a flashlight hilariously to create a thunderstorm as she opens an umbrella full of holes and races off stage.
As her mini-storm is overtaken by the sounds of a vicious ocean storm and a shipwreck that shake the rafters of Lucie Stern Theatre, a young woman barefoot and in wet, tattered clothes stumbles down the aisle with two sailors following her. The three soon find themselves on the shores of Brooklyn’s Coney Island during the height of Prohibition and the Roaring Twenties. What better setting and time period for Shakespeare’s comedy of disguise, love triangles, revenge, foolery, and of course, love of every sort, shape, and size! Palo Alto Players’ Twelfth Night is a delightful rollercoaster of hilarity that is peppered with spicy, scat-laced songs of the era (and two using the text of the Bard and Twenties-style music composed by Caitlin Gjerdrum, the play’s jazz singer, clown, and soon-to-be fool, Feste).
Please continue to Talkin’ Broadway for the rest of my review.