When I was finishing Lillian’s Last Affair during a two-week stint at the LA house of dear friends a year or two ago, I couldn’t get started. The first night there I had experienced a scary earthquake and I had uncharacteristic trouble settling into my writing. My writer friend, Sarah, invited me to a Shakespeare-in-the-Park performance, and the wit and power of Shakespeare’s writing catapulted me into a very productive literary housesit.
How infrequently I take advantage of such opportunities in my own town of Boston. It’s a hassle to go downtown, parking is expensive, maybe there will be mosquitos, those beach chairs are uncomfortable, and where will I pee. The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, in its 19th season, is performing “Twelfth Night” so my friend and I decide to go, not the least because the main character is a girl passing herself off as a boy, causing a skein of romantic gender confusions.
Everything about the production was fantabulous and I highly recommend that locals go and see it (until August 10). My only complaint is that clearly neither the actor nor the director knows much about girls dressing as boys. Convincing gestures and body language are crucial elements to “passing,” and these were absent. Lowering the pitch of the voice is useful, as is a different attitude. I’m afraid that Viola needed more than a change of clothes to become a convincing Cesario. I would have loved to play the part (I’ve never been in a play) if only I could pass for a teenager and wouldn’t be required, as Viola, to wear a dress.
There’s singing, there’s dancing, and there’s the most magnificently pliable and decorative backdrop for the play. There is even a bank of porta-potties with plenty of toilet paper and well-behaved lines right behind the bandstand. Every seat is a good seat and the sound system is superb.