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Including Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Four Man Plan and more

Wednesday, Aug 23 2006

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TWELFTH NIGHT The “louder and faster” approach of director Justin Eick is often effective in this energetic redux of Shakespeare’s comedy of love, gender and mistaken identity. Shipwrecked high-born lady Viola (Carrie-Ann Pishnak) pretends to be a boy in the court of Duke Orsino (Justin Scheuer) and act as a go-between to woo the recalcitrant object of his love, Olivia (Jennifer Hoyt). As producers and stars, Pishnak and Hoyt enjoy the bulk of this version’s cutting and successfully carry off some highly original takes on these characters, imbuing them with liveliness and humor. The other characters don’t fare so well. Though cast with good actors, they are relegated to two dimensions, having little growth to illustrate the familiar story. Most disappointing is the handling of Malvolio (Eric Thompson), Olivia’s snide steward who becomes the butt of the play’s low-born jokes. While Thompson creates a funny persona, his Malvolio seems more of a pathetic, imbecilic twit than a mean-spirited snob who needs bringing down — so when he is brought down there’s no glee, just embarrassment. Eick’s biggest mistake is staging an inordinate number of comic moments on the floor in a space that blocks the view from anyone not in the first row. Physically the play is decorated with lovely (uncredited), simple Elizabethan costumes. LOST STUDIO, 130 S. La Brea Ave., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Sept. 2. (323) 933-6944. (Tom Provenzano)

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