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Alex Moggridge plays Andrew in Free Shakespeare in the Park's production of
Twelfth Night.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Shakespeare's Wacky Tale of Love Brings Crowd to the Park
By Alexandra DeFelice, OAKLAND TRIBUNE

LOVE can be confusing no matter what the circumstances, but a triangle of romance always promises some extra spice.

As in so many of William Shakespeare's plays, "Twelfth Night" does not disappoint in the category of love gone crazy. The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival continues its four-city summer tour with performances beginning Saturday at the Memorial Park Amphitheater in Cupertino.

The play tells the tale of a shipwrecked young woman named Viola (Alexandra Matthew), who disguises herself as a boy named Cesario to get work and quickly becomes another woman's object of affection. The woman, a countess named Olivia (Mia Tagano), happens to be the love interest of Cesario's master, Duke Orsino (Joe Wyka).

The story is filled with double meanings and bizarre twists and is not always easy to follow. Many families showed up for the play's opening night in a park across the Bay in Pleasanton and several parents found themselves having to whisper in their children's ears to explain what was going on (if they could figure it out themselves).

But some scenarios needed no words to entertain the large crowd that showed up to watch the classic love story unfolding on a beautifully decorated outdoor stage.

Everyone loves a fool -- especially children -- and those intentionally simple yet deeply witty funny men are the ones who get our smiles in this performance under the direction of Kenneth Kelleher.

Sir Toby (Julian Lopez-Morales) is a babbling drunk. No matter how poor the microphones, he manages to shout loudly enough for all to hear and to make us chuckle as he prances across the stage, singing and dancing and not caring what anyone thinks.

The plaid-clad gentleman is entertaining enough on his own, but a few of his giddy counterparts enhance his act.

First is Malvolio (Jack Powell), who in a subplot also falls in love with Olivia. Sir Toby and other members of the household trick Malvolio into believing the countess returns his ardor by way of a letter that asks him to do the most absurd things. If for nothing else, Powell deserves credit for the scene that drew the most roars and applause from the audience, in which he appears before his love in bright yellow sexy lingerie (thinking this was her wish).

Pulling all the foolishness together is none other than the classic Shakespeare fool himself, a clown named Feste (Stephen Klum), who behind his sarcasm and stupidity is brighter than any of the people who toss gold his way for a quick chuckle.

Klum is a perfect fool. He exudes confidence in the way he throws insults at even the highest authorities, makes us laugh with his musical routines and keeps us watching as he skates around the stage -- a strange addition to an already wacky premise.

Despite some drawn-out soliloquies and difficulty keeping track of who's who, this "Twelfth Night" is light-hearted and fun. It's a great opportunity to bring out a blanket, a picnic and some wine while enjoying some free Shakespeare.

You can reach Alexandra DeFelice at

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