Shakespeare Al Fresco
~ By Jessica Graae
Thanks to Mother Nature’s bountiful rain, we caught the Delaware Shakespeare Festival’s opening of Twelfth Night on Saturday in Wilmington’s beautiful Rockwood Park. The company, in its seventh year, continues a much-loved tradition for Delawareans who might not otherwise get much Shakespeare or theater in the summer. The Bard’s hysterical farce entertained young and old.
We got to the park early to get the perfect spot for our blanket in front of the Rockwood Mansion, which serves as the stage for this enthusiastic young company. Its Tudor-style crossbeams and slightly crumbling façade transport the actors and audience to a by-gone era. Scenic designer Simon Harding uses the various levels and doorways of the house to maximum effect, with minimal fuss. The sunlight, which lights the set for the first hour of the performance, gives way to stage lighting creeping in, almost unnoticed.
Orsino’s famous opening lines “If music be the food of love, play on” are underscored by the sultry sounds of a saxophone playing. The music and designer Regina Rizzo’s clever costumes of linen and tweed transport us to the 1930s or 1940s. Rizzo even creates an updated version of the cross-gartered leg ensemble for Malvolio, whose role was performed hilariously by Brian McCann.
Ably directed by Karen DiLossi, the entire cast projected their words with clarity. The actors moved about freely, without being constrained by the location of the microphones. I was concerned the latecomers sitting further back might miss nuances of the performance, but it was clear from the hearty laughter and applause, nothing was missed.
For more information about the performances, which run through August 1, go to www.delshakes.org or call 302.764.0113.