If I might borrow from Chicago’s city motto “Urbs in Orto” (translated as “City in a Garden”) this production of “Twelfth Night” can be described as “Theatrum in Orto” (“Theater in a Garden”) as Midsommer Flight presents their popular perennial production of one of Shakespeare’s silliest plays, energetically performed, amid the (house-plants run amok) tropical flora collection in the Lincoln Park Conservatory’s Show House Room.
Directed by Dylan S. Roberts the comedy is intimately staged more-or-less in-the-round, costumed in 20th Century modern dress.
Included in this production is a collection of original folk-style madrigals and medieval-inspired vocal compositions of Elizabeth Rentfro, Alex Mauney and Jordan Golding. They are performed by actors, accompanied by guitar, mandolin and trumpet, most notably featuring Bailey Savage (strings, vocals) and Laura Brennan (trumpet).
Savage’s performance as the self-dealing fool, Feste, adds significant levity and droll humor.
This is a story where the key character Viola (brilliantly played by Jackie Seijo) is disguised as a man; the servant Malvolio (Erika B. Caldwell) awkwardly woos her “mistress”; and generally everyone is misbehaving.
None more so than Sir Toby Belch (Zach Tabor) one of The Bard’s most favorite characters, as the “house guest from hell” relished by actors and audiences alike for his pranks and debauchery.
The amusing gender bending comedy provides some good fun and a few iconic quotes such as “If music be the food of love, play on…” and “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.”
The production is well-acted, but the primary reason to attend is for the charming atmosphere, made even more so with the addition of some twinkling Christmas lights and a baby Wooly Mammoth whose presence does not go unmentioned.
Though not exactly a children’s play this could be enjoyed by some more mature pre-teens who have the patience to manage the language and who might enjoy the sophomoric escapades.
I suggest you allow yourself some time to enjoy the Zoo Lights before heading over to the Conservatory located in the glass building on the north end of the park. Though it may be cold outside it is very warm inside the climate controlled building. Parking can be a challenge so plan accordingly.
“Twelfth Night” is a Midsommer Flight production at The Lincoln Park Conservatory, 2391 N. Stockton Drive, Chicago, through Dec. 22, 2019. Running time: about 100 minutes. For information visit Midsommer Flight.
For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago