Laughter and Light Abound in Prime Stage’s “Twelfth Night”

Alison Weisgall as Olivia and Carolyn Jerz as Viola/Cesario

Kudos to Prime Stage for a Twelfth Night that truly sings. Stage director Andy Kirtland has created a lovely adaptation of Shakespeare’s 1601 comedy. A vibrant intimacy connects the players and audience, supporting a wonderful production that’s superbly enjoyable for both those who know this play and for anyone experiencing Shakespeare for the first time.

Kirtland transports an ensemble of some of Shakespeare’s most lovable characters to sunny Portugal in the 1920s, a decade known for the shirking of conventions. His clean direction keeps the action and well-experienced Shakespearean actors moving with clear intention. There are some very delightful physical bits, lots of engaging direct conversation with the audience, and plenty of ridiculously comic stage-fighting–just how Shakespeare’s company would have played to the groundlings.

[…]

That “lad” is Viola disguised as Cesario, the Duke’s romantic emissary. This multi-layered role is well-entrusted to Carolyn Jerz, one of the most promising young Shakespereans in town. An endearing and capable Viola, she is mostly disguised with her long locks stuffed into a boy’s cap. Jerz mirrors Feightner’s spunky optimism while she carries out Orsino’s bidding to court another woman with wit and resourcefulness. –Yvonne Hudson, Pittsburgh in the Round