Twelfth Night | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Twelfth Night 

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Shakespeare's great comedy--about a girl who poses as a boy to help the man she loves win the woman he wants, who in turn falls for the girl posing as a boy--is played by an all-male ensemble in this remarkable touring production. Created for Moscow's 2003 Chekhov International Theatre Festival by director Declan Donnellan and designer Nick Ormerod (codirectors of Britain's Cheek by Jowl theater company), this minimalist modern-dress staging is performed in Russian with English supertitles, which distill the text rather than display it in full. The actors eschew stereotypical masculine and feminine mannerisms to achieve a pure androgyny, and their graceful, precise, economical portrayals reflect sublime physical technique and the director's acute eye for detail. Traditionalists may miss hearing the play's poetry, but the performances--romantic and robust, manic and melancholy--convey its essence: the pain, confusion, and ridiculous hilarity of unrequited or inappropriate desire. a Through 12/3: Thu-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 2 and 8 PM, Sun 1 and 6 PM, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand, 312-595-5600, $50-$67.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Vladimir Vyatkin.

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