Hijinks and madness in Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night'

BRATTLEBORO — New England Youth Theatre presents Williams Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night," directed by John Hadden, to be performed on Friday, at 7 p.m., Saturday, at 2 and 7 p.m., and Sunday, at 2 p.m., at NEYT, 100 Flat St., Brattleboro.

"Twelfth Night" is a brilliant, dark comedy about love and madness, full of music, beautiful language, cross-dressing and other forms of disguise. Written the same year as he wrote Hamlet, Shakespeare asks many of the same existential questions, but in a world as colorful and wacky as Denmark is cold and serious: Shipwrecked twins on a voyage far from home, each thinking the other has drowned, wander into a world full of petty rivalry, misunderstanding, cruelty, and ridiculous hijinks, most of it fueled by longing and disappointment.

As directed by Hadden, the production takes some artistic risks with the set, the lights, and the concept of the play itself, and as performed by the NEYT senior company, the story takes on an entirely new tone. "I've done this play maybe 15 to 20 times, and each time it feels fresh and new," said Hadden, "and particularly when performed by kids who are developmentally at the peak of their lives — discovering new things about themselves and the world every day. They are able to synthesize information and language faster than adults, which makes for a very exciting and fast-paced rehearsal process and performance."

The lighting for the production was designed by Vermont-based artist Mark O'Maley through NEYT's Professional Mentorship Program, and is highlighted by the always-fabulous costumes designed and created by NEYT creative director Sandy Klein.

Tickets for these performances are $13 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $10 for students.

Tickets may be purchased in advance at neyt.org or in person at the NEYT box office.

NEYT is an accessible theater, with accommodations for wheelchairs, and Assistive Listening Devices for patrons who are hard of hearing.


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