All star cast

This evening I saw yet another production of “Twelfth Night”, one of my favorite of the bard’s plays. This was the Pig Theatre’s rollicking over-the-top production, which focused mainly on the laughs and absurdities, in contrast to the Royal Shakespeare Company version recently on Broadway, which went deeper and more serious.

After seeing this production you may end up remembering Malvolio and Feste the fool. Yet in the RSC production, what you can’t get out of your head is the astonishing soulful performance of Mark Rylance as Olivia.

This contrast made me think back on all the productions I’ve seen of this play through the years, and I found myself mentally assembling an all star cast, picking and choosing from each production to create a dream team. Sort of like what people do with baseball: “What if Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle were on the same team…”

So what would be my “Twelfth Night” dream cast? Certainly Mark Rylance as Olivia. And perhaps Marisa Tomei as Viola from a “Shakespeare in the Park” production. To me the definitive Sir Toby Belch was Fred Gwynne (known to a generation as Herman Munster) in a production from quite a few years back. His scene stealing performance as the fabulously drunken nobleman showed there was a lot more to this actor than TV had allowed him to reveal.

Perhaps one day technology will advance to the point where we can simulate all of these great actors onstage together, in a dream production. Until then, we’ll just have to use our imaginations.

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