It's crazy how funny a guy in yellow stockings can be. Well, he was cross-gartered, too. That probably helped.
In Lake Braddock High School's presentation of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night, or What you Will," Malvolio's fluorescent tights and criss-crossed legs were not the only thing on the menu. "Twelfth Night" has a rather complicated plot, but is basically the story of Sebastian and Viola, two twins who get separated, two nobles, Orsino and Olivia, and their friends and servants. Disguise, mistakes, comedy, and love are the names of the game.
The comic performances of three outstanding actors propelled the show: Kathleen Mason as Feste the Fool; Brendan Hill as Sir Andrew, a cowardly suitor to Olivia; and Adam Ressa as Malvolio, Olivia's servant. Kathleen Mason, reminiscent of a mischievous pixie, wandered in and out of scenes doing good or bad and singing all the way.
Brendan Hill played Sir Andrew with a squeaky character voice and spastic gestures that consistently cracked up the audience. Adam Ressa gave a convincing monologue in the scene where Malvolio finds the false love letter from Olivia. His transformation from strict and stiff to love struck and lustful was beyond hilarious; a lesser man could not have worn those yellow stockings so well.
While the comic actors were great, the tech stole the show. The set, designed by Michelle Gomez, was incredibly creative. It was comprised of many interchangeable platforms, walkways and boxes that were draped with various fabrics. The many scene changes were effective and efficient. Adam Ressa's lighting was a perfect partner to the versatile set and always fit the scene; bright for comic, shadowy for serious, and a single spot on soliloquies.
Megan Lange's costumes were very fanciful. They did not focus on a single time period, but wove in Elizabethan dresses, business suits, and even sombreros. Speaking of those sombreros, a truly delightful part of the show was the music, composed by Brian Dudolevitch, Matt Ference, and Shelby Bernard, some of it performed by sombreroed strangers.
In the end, the show was a very unique performance of a Shakespeare classic. "Twelfth Night" could never be the same without Malvolio's yellow stockings, but in this case, the tech made the show what it was — or, "What You Will."
The Critics and Awards Program for high school theater (Cappies), a program for Washington-region high school theater, provides reviews and awards for high school productions. See www.cappies.com