Midsommer Flight makes its annual Twelfth Night excursion to the Lincoln Park Conservatory | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

Midsommer Flight makes its annual Twelfth Night excursion to the Lincoln Park Conservatory 

Shakespeare in the Park isn't just for warm weather.

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Tom McGrath

Walk out of the withered city and into the Lincoln Park Conservatory, where the lush greenery first hits your sore, swabbed nose and then feeds your sun-starved eyes. Right at the door is a sausage tree, where curious fruits hang pendulous, comic, and perplexing. Wend your way through ferns and moss, orchids, grass, weeds wide enough to wrap a fairy in—all shadowed in the mystery of night—and arrive at a glass house decked with twinkling lights. This is where Midsommer Flight stages Twelfth Night, Shakespeare's soapy, silly comedy about a cross-dressing shipwreck survivor and their amorous mishaps in the country of Illyria. Now running for the fourth year, the current production brings a new cast, directed by Ian Damont Martin, with original music composed by Elizabeth Rentfro and Alex Mauney.

Some characters are excellently rendered: Oly Oxinfry well embodies the contradictions of the melancholy fool Feste; whether they prance, provoke, or pester their audience for pennies, they are both the lightest and heaviest of presences. Maureen Yasko flounces with a fury as the arrogant servant Malvolio, then becomes utterly pitiable as the victim of the plot engineered by Maria (a merciless Chelsee Carter) to make her seem a lunatic (however, the accusation of madness is less tolerable when the accused is a woman). Others seem to know their lines but not the meaning of them.

As a silent pageant, this is very good. As an articulate exposition of the mayhem of misplaced love, it is not. However, the overall experience is festive.   v

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