Fourth Wall Theatre production’s Twelfth Night proved once again how Shakespeare is still relevant

Reinterpreting Shakespeare is not uncommon as his plays lend themselves beautifully to the contemporary world. And, Fourth Wall Theatre of The American College after a four-year hiatus, tweaked Twelfth Night and made it relevant to the present times.

It was a challenge for directors N. Elango and L.M. Bezaleel to shape the play to suit the local taste. “We traced the plot structure first and then gathered together the scenes and dialogues,” said Elango. But he chose this play for production because of the universality of its theme. “I wanted to stage this play as a lesson to adolescents who shirk responsibilities and take the extreme step. There is a lot to learn from Twelfth Night. Be it self-pity or self-love, anything in excess of it will only land you in trouble,” he said.

The play revolves around Viola who is shipwrecked on the coast of Illyria. She loses contact with her twin brother, Sebastian, whom she believes to be dead. She disguises herself as a young man under the name Cesario and enters the service of Duke Orsino who is deeply in love with Countess Olivia. The melancholy Orsino sends Cesario as an envoy to represent his case. But Olivia loses her heart to Cesario. But Cesario is in love with the Duke. Finally, as all Shakespearean comedies do, this play too ends on a happy note with Viola marrying Orsino and her brother Sebastian, who is actually not dead, marrying Olivia.

The play radiates hope and positivity. Just when Viola, who miraculously escapes a shipwreck, thinks all is lost, there is a fresh lease of life waiting for her at Illyria.

The directors used the traditional device of Greek Periaktoi (that displays and rapidly changes theatre scenes) and Italian Proscenium.

Though it is not there in the original play, the directors decided to have jester Feste as the narrator. He was the third eye commenting on the characters. Feste linked the audience and the play.

The characters came alive on stage, thanks to the makeup and costume. Preeti Rani Pattnaik, who played Olivia, was full of grace. Kalaimathi (Viola/Cesario) and Joshua Solomon (Duke Orsino) gave creditable performances.

Sarojaa V. Kumar as Olivia’s stout lady-in-waiting drew attention too. But the standout performers were R. Samuel Arputharaj and J. Joshua Jerome as the drunken pranksters, Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew. Their goofy slapstick evoked plenty of mirth.

The soulful song of the clown, Feste, highlighted the spirited music composition by R. Samuel Aruputharaj and M. Josiah Immanuel. And the joyful clown dance cleverly camouflaged the backstage crew changing sets behind.

The drama was performed for educational institutions and will be staged for the public on February 1 at The American College auditorium at 6 p.m.