Twelfth Night Dishes on Love

If music be the food of love, play on. “Twelfth Night” cast members, from l, Dylan Diehl (Viola), Aaron Anthony Bonilla (Feste), and Lauren Lewis (Olivia).

A lighthearted look at love and all its exasperations, Twelfth Night blends excellent acting, directing, and design work in a modern, emotional take on William Shakespeare’s romantic tale.

Shakespeare’s classic comedy chronicles the adventures of sister and brother, Viola (Dylan Diehl) and Sebastian (Barry Finnegan), who are separated in a shipwreck in a strange land. For protection, Viola disguises herself as the servant boy Cesario, which leads to all sorts of romantic, gender-confused complications. Will “all’s well that ends well,” and will love prevail?

The Advent Theatre production is cleverly organized and conceived by directors Brett Elliott and Jason D. Rennie with a postmodern, sardonic touch on proceedings. They keep things moving right along, successfully blending in music to evocatively set mood.

Production work is first rate, from Kim Wilkinson’s elaborate, elegant, and often steampunk style costumes, to Karl Wm. Klein’s simple yet elegant set designs and lighting. John Henry Kreitler’s madrigals and songs wonderfully evoke the period and his witty use of sound effects brings laughs. The directors have created a stylized, streamlined production that focuses on performances.

Acting is top notch, with the cast demonstrating excellent timing, chemistry, and physicality, emphasizing irony and satire in their performances. The cast also makes iambic pentameter roll naturally off their tongues. Diehl shines as Viola, vulnerable yet fierce. Lauren Lewis’ Olivia is a flirty and sexy wench. John Ross Clark’s Sir Toby Belch and Ross Hellwig’s Sir Andrew make a hilarious team with their rubbery and physical performances.

The Advent Theatre presents Twelfth Night Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 1:30 p.m. through Oct. 14 at the First Christian Church of NorthHollywood located at4390 Colfax Ave. inNorth Hollywood. Tickets cost $20, $15 for seniors and students, and $10 for groups of eight or more.

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