The Public Theater's Mobile Unit presents a stripped-down take on Shakespeare's gender-bending, heart-mending comedy in a new production reset in Florida in the mid-90s. More…
When a young shipwrecked immigrant named Viola takes a chance on the “wet foot, dry foot” policy of the mid-'90s and washes up on the shore of glitzy Illyria, Florida, she becomes a stranger in a fabulously strange new land. Thinking her twin brother has drowned, Viola throws herself into a new gig as assistant to Orsino, a wealthy Floridian with a serious case of love sickness for a wealthy lady, Olivia. Having disguised herself as a boy to become Orsino’s right-hand man, Viola (now Cesario) is tasked with delivering his adoring valentines. But as Viola woos in her boss’s name, she falls head over spiky heels for the man himself, while Olivia turns her affections to the intriguing young messenger boy, Cesario (aka Viola). Set to the rhythms of house, Cuban, and '90s beats, this colorful comedy shows how the power of new people and new experiences can throw the world into beautiful disarray, and open hearts and minds to the possibility of love.
"Not only one of the best versions of this beloved play, but any of the Bard’s other works you’ll have to opportunity to see in your lifetime. It isn’t merely that this Caribbean-themed, laugh-a-second show is stylistically fun, but also because it perfectly captures the story’s complexities, nuances and gorgeous language, making the contemporary setting fit naturally with its 17th-century dialog...This production is astonishing in that it features one praise-worthy performance after another." Full Review
"A devil-may-care production, hysterically funny, rapid-fire acting at a neck-breaking pace…One of Shakespeare’s best comedies...You’ll be delighted with gorgeous Cuban music and dance, costumes and chunks of iambic pentameter spoken in Spanish. ‘Twelfth Night’ has never been so sexy and raunchy and funny. Olivia played by Ceci Fernandez is Carol Burnett slapstick and Carole Lombard screwball charm all in one." Full Review
“A fast, funny production that is designed to let Shakespeare speak to modern audiences…The approach works because it is solidly grounded in the text, and because the words are so well spoken….A couple of staging bits go a little far over the top for my taste, but never mind: This festive production is both an engaging introduction to Shakespeare for the inexperienced and a thoroughly enjoyable updating of an old favorite for the initiated." Full Review
"A fantastic and high-energy production...The impeccable cast members rove throughout the space...The audience surrounds the 'stage' facing each other and house lights are never turned off, so there is a sense of community and shared experience. And what an experience it is. Boisterous, bawdy, uproarious and colorful, the Mobile Unit’s 'Twelfth Night' is Shakespeare at its most youthful...This production provides pure escapism for 90 minutes of sexy, 17th-century century fun." Full Review
“A funny and colorful freestyle riff on Shakespeare's romantic comedy…With the complicated plot compressed to an hour and a half, there's little time for subtext, but the company is obviously having a blast playing the comedy's broad strokes in a festive atmosphere of frozen drinks and poolside fun. It's a terrific intro to Shakespeare for kids and other first-timers.” Full Review
"The nine-member cast is having a hoot from the moment the audience starts arriving...That Ali does such a raucous job of bringing 'Twelfth Night' so alive and kicking is creditable...But there is a drawback...He has Fernandez go for laughs from first to last, thereby bleaching Shakespeare’s multi-level composing of its more baleful layers...Still, a revival like Ali’s that gives so many patrons a pungent taste of Shakespeare’s abundant pluses has to be embraced." Full Review
"Unrelieved, and unrelievable, madcap abandon, with each new scene and complication colliding with the one before it as though it's trying to outswim a shark. This robs the play of a lot of its elevated poetic nuance, and makes the fun almost entirely visceral...It works for what it is: an ultra-quick and dirty distillation...The play can be more textured than this incarnation, but...when you're basking in the beaming rays it delivers, chances are you won't find that much to complain about." Full Review
“Although this production goes way over-the-top at times with its comic energy, the acting troupe really connects with the audience…What does come across is Shakespeare's vivid language…A few principals carry the play through to its moving denouement...The rest of the cast either overplay their comic roles or overdo their characters' quirkiness...Happily, 'Twelfth Night' is pretty much an unsinkable play. This production, though flawed, deserves a bravo." Full Review
“Subtlety is naturally lost in all the hijinks, but the high spirits come across loud and clear. The staging is simple…Here, little new is unearthed and certain elements are obscured but it’s an enjoyable romp with a game cast. I wasn’t thrilled with Ceci Fernandez’s campy take on Olivia but she grew on me…As dull as Cohen was in romantic mode, he was twice as fun as the live-wire Sir Andrew…I do question the cutting of director Ali.” Full Review
“This frantic staging does offer some amusements…But it also suffers the fate of many an outreach show produced by institutional theaters including the Public: It’s not as good as the usual fare…It’s a convoluted and ridiculous plot that demands clarity in performance but mostly doesn’t get it from this erratic production, whose pared-down script adds to the confusion…The lively Latin and house music is entertaining…But there is an overwhelming forced merriment in the pursuit of laughs.” Full Review
See it if are looking for a rich radically inclusive good time.
Don't see it if you have a problem not always understanding the play word by word (much of it is in Spanish), or are looking for a darker interpretation.
See it if you want to see a wonderful, super fun 90-minute Twelfth Night. Fabulous direction. Fantastic performances. Maybe my all-time fave Olivia.
Don't see it if I guess if you hate Shakespeare for some reason? It's FREE. You should see it.
See it if You love a solid revamp of a hilarious show. Accesible, idyllic and entertaining.
Don't see it if Shakespeare, even greatly reimagined for a contemporary audience is not your thing.
See it if you enjoy Shakespeare set in modern times, thus making it more relatable and easier to comprehend
Don't see it if You don't enjoy Shakespeare, or believe it should be kept in the 1600's style
See it if you love great Shakespeare, or want to find out why people do. Modern and vibrant, with tour de force performances and great added music.
Don't see it if you prefer "traditional" Shakespeare, or you look at the poster for this show and don't think "aw hell yeah, I wanna see THAT 12th Night."
See it if You want to see a refreshing production of a Shakespeare play, done in accessible manner, by a company with an admirable raison d'etre.
Don't see it if You have a cold, dead heart. I'm grateful I got the chance to see Twelfth Night! Really, maybe if you truly don't want to see a comedy.
See it if You enjoy Shakespeare done MASTERFULLY. A brilliant take on the story, with characters so funny and alive it was impossible not to go again.
Don't see it if You don't like your Shakespeare re-imagined for modern times. Or Shakespeare at all. Or wonderful actors portraying super fun characters.
See it if You like seeing a fresh take on a famous Shakespeare play, have a great sense of humor, you enjoy when cast is having fun performing
Don't see it if You don't like updated versions of a Shakespeare play
See it if you like Shakespeare, wish you liked Shakespeare, or are open to changing your mind about liking Shakespeare. This show is fun!
Don't see it if honestly, I can't think of a reason not to see it. It's hard to imagine that you won't enjoy it, and you can't beat the price!
See it if you want to see a well-acted Shakespeare play given an updated treatment set in Miami with actors who speak some Spanish.
Don't see it if you want to see a "traditional" Shakespeare play or if you don't like Shakespearean plays.
See it if You enjoy a more modern take on Shakespeare. You like intimate settings with focus on the actors/acting - not elaborate sets and production.
Don't see it if You don't like Shakespeare. You prefer elaborate sets and extravagant staging.
See it if you want a modern twist on the play and want an accessible, funny version of the classic. it's really easy to keep up with!
Don't see it if You prefer a darker take, love traditional Shakespeare, don't like Latin music interspersed with the scenes, want a large scale production.
See it if A talented cast perform Shakespeare with a Latin flair & music to go with it, a hilarious romp and a fun show. Shakespeare for the masses.
Don't see it if If you are a Shakespeare snob and don't want it changed or need it verbatim...this is not the show for you then.
See it if you'd roll w/a freewheeling Cliff's Notes version of Twelfth Night. The actors shine though this version's pared down in the wrong places.
Don't see it if you're a staunch Shakespeare traditionalist.
See it if You enjoy comedy and would like to see a new take on Shakespeare classics. And it's soooo funny!
Don't see it if You only like traditional Shakespeare and don't want to be entertained.
See it if you enjoy a fast-paced and funny Shakespeare, if you like multi-cultural casts and adaptations, and if you like some cast interaction
Don't see it if you want elaborate sets and costumes, or if you don't prefer any changes or adaptations to the text
See it if You love modern interpretations of Shakespeare and interacting with actors. It is fun and enjoyable from start to finish
Don't see it if You prefer less cut down Shakespeare or exploration of some of the darker elements of Twelfth Night
See it if You have never seen the play or you love the play and want to see a new, creative, energetic, shorter version of it with an impressive cast.
Don't see it if You want a traditional, full-length production of the play.
See it if you know your Shakespeare, because this production twists and turns it on it's ear (but you'll laugh so hard, you won't care)
Don't see it if you're a Willie S. purist and don't care for the liberties a Public Theater show takes with his words
Also Sit back, laugh and don't take it too seriously. It's a hoot and half!
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