“Twelfth Night” Sees Shakespearean Comedy Washed Ashore on Kleist Stage  

Baldwin Wallace theater students are set to premiere Brennan Murphy’s adaptation of the William Shakespeare’s comedy “Twelfth Night” on Mar. 23 in the Black Box Theatre at Kleist Center for Art and Drama. 

“Twelfth Night” centers around Viola, a young woman who has been shipwrecked on the coast of Illyria, separated from her twin brother. Viola must disguise herself as a man in order to survive this new land, and she must learn to navigate this new environment without revealing her secret.  

Love runs rampant throughout the production, and the many intertwining plotlines seek to wreak havoc on the lives of the characters. Sophomore Evan Vay, who plays Malvolio, is the center of one of the main subplots of the play. 

“There’s all these intricately woven plotlines about deception and people misunderstanding things and falling for tricks,” said Vay. “It’s the story of ‘Twelfth Night’ but with some twists that make it, I think, unique.” 

The uniqueness of this “Twelfth Night” in particular stems from Murphy’s adapted script. Cut down to a 90-minute run-time, the story keeps its plot and comedic nature while including contemporary songs and original compositions by sophomore Chase Kessler. 

In adapting “Twelfth Night”, Murphy found most trouble in “making the language accessible” to student actors and audiences because Shakespeare wrote in a different vernacular than the current-day tongue.  

Murphy said, “I think [the adaptation] is such that people will understand most of what’s going on, even though the language sometimes is not contemporary English.” 

Junior Grace McVey, who plays Maria, also said that overcoming the language barrier was one of the biggest challenges that she and her fellow actors faced. However, working with Murphy and understanding the meaning behind the words helped the language to flow naturally. 

“Twelfth Night” was originally set to premiere in Sept. 2021, but a mold issue in Kleist postponed the production. This did benefit the actors, though, as they were able to spend more time learning the show and their characters.  

“That also was a big blessing that we got to work with this show for so long,” McVey said. “We got to dig deeper and deeper into our characters and into the words and just figure out new things each time.” 

Keeping students interested in the process was a challenge for Murphy, but the cast had fun in the rehearsal process and maintained a mood of high spirits and strong momentum. This same energy is brought to the production. 

Vay said, “It’s going to feel mostly like college people having a good time. It just happens to be Shakespeare.” 

The humor laced throughout “Twelfth Night” engaged the students involved in the production, and they hope audiences will feel the joy radiated off of the stage. 

“We’ve had so much time with it,” McVey said. “It’s very funny, and who doesn’t want to laugh? Who wouldn’t need a laugh right now?” 

“Twelfth Night” will run Mar. 23-27, and admission is free for students. More information including ticket sales can be found at https://www.bw.edu/events/theatre-dance/.