Arts & Entertainment

MCHS drama department presents a Shakespearean classic under the stars

By Gianina Fan, editor

Two, no three, weddings. Three sword fights. A love triangle–well, it’s a little more complicated than that. Identity theft. These are only a few of the shenanigans Viola, played by senior Sophie Carlton, encounters in the Shakespearian play Twelfth Night, directed by Maria Carrillo High School fine arts teacher Denise Elia-Yen..

MCHS’s very first outdoor show was a success. Thought you couldn’t understand Shakespeare without your English teacher translating it all for you? Think again. You likely wouldn’t understand every single plot point. But if you understand the basic plot, then the actors have done their job. These brilliant actors will make you rethink the way you felt about Shakespeare. In a play where the dialogue is of a time period centuries ago, the acting truly shines. It is the actors who convey the story with their facial expressions, mannerisms, and tone of voice–not necessarily the words they speak.

The play follows Carlton as Viola and the trouble that ensues when she is shipwrecked on the island of Illyria and decides to disguise herself as a man named Cesario. Here’s the catch: unbeknownst to Viola, her twin brother Sebastian, played by junior Evan Walsh, also survived the shipwreck and is roaming the very same island. As the play continues, Cesario and Sebastian are mistaken for one another by the people on the island.

On a non-traditional stage, the actors had to deal with everything thrown their way. It was impressive to see how they projected their voices effectively without microphones to the whole quad. Through injuries, a sword accidentally catching on fire, gusty winds that threatened to tear the set apart, and even band practice out on the football fields, the cast and crew pushed through it all. 

Carlton steals the show with her larger-than-life facial expressions and gestures. When she, as Cesario, interacts with Olivia, played by senior Peyton Whiteside, Carlton’s body language and tone easily distinguish Viola’s discomfort when Olivia expresses her love for Cesario. Whiteside plays Olivia as an oblivious lover, perfectly capturing the ridiculous drama that is a constant within Shakespeare’s shows. The play wouldn’t be nearly as funny without the interactions between Carlton and Whiteside. 

Additionally, Carlton’s interaction with junior Thomas Whitaker’s Orsino effectively bring comedic relief to the show as Viola pines for Orsino, who’s in love with Olivia, who’s in love with Cesario. Complicated, I know. Would it be a Shakespeare play if there wasn’t a love triangle?

Senior Abigail Garcia wins audiences over as Sir Toby, a drunkard up to no good. Her swaggering stance and off-key singing make her portrayal all the more hilarious. When paired with Fabiana, played by senior Meljeanne Mero, and Sir Andrew, played by sophomore Finn Wright, the mischievous trio bring the show to life as they conspire ways to mess with the other characters in the show, namely senior Spencer Byrne’s Malvolio. With Maria, portrayed by senior Nicki Watt, at their helm, they devise a letter for Malvolio to read that gives him the impression that Olivia is in love with him. To toy with Malvolio even further, they add within the letter that Olivia fancies yellow-stockings with cross garters and absolute optimism, which isn’t the case at all. Malvolio, in his oblivion, heeds the letter and presents himself to Olivia with none other than knee-high, bright yellow socks and black cross garters for an extra touch. 

Byrne is the true fan favorite. He captures Malvolio’s foolishness and oblivion perfectly with his mannerisms and purposeful voice cracks. He leaves you marveling how he manages to keep up the act every night without losing his voice. Audiences get a good laugh as he prances about in knee-high, cross gartered, yellow stockings. 

The dynamic between Walsh’s Sebastian and Antonia, played by sophomore Reilly Trainor, is also one worthy of praise. Trainor’s portrayal of Antonia’s loyalty towards Sebastian is spot-on. Walsh plays the strong, but somewhat foolish, Sebastian perfectly.

Fest the Fool, played by senior Bella Farrell, is another comedic element of the play as he plots tricks and provides music. When Fest pretends to impersonate another character to mess with Malvolio, Farrell has the audience in stitches with her impersonation of none other than Mickey Mouse.

And speaking of impersonations, sophomore Ashley Busienei’s take on the priest is a hilarious and unexpected addition to the play. It happens to be a nod to The Princess Bride, which Yen credits as one of the inspirations behind MCHS’s Twelfth Night. 

As the play enters its final scenes, the plot truly begins to unfold. Olivia marries Sebastian, mistaking him for Cesario, Orsino is left to wonder how his errand boy ended up marrying the girl he was in love with, and Antonia is under the impression she’s been betrayed by Sebastian, when really it was Cesario who has no idea who Antonia is. The play is resolved when Ceasario meets his brother Sebastian and reveals himself as Viola. All ends well for everyone. Well, maybe not Malvolio. 

These brilliant actors put their best foot forward, learning Shakespeare over the summer to be able to put on a performance in the early fall. Along with Elia-Yen’s guidance, these students made MCHS’s very first outdoor show one to remember and the first of many more to come.

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