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Shakespeare in Russian at the Kennedy Center? Da!

By Peter Marks

Declan Donnellan's all-male "Twelfth Night"--in Russian, no less--proves to be a stylishly madcap evening of Shakespeare. The production (with English surtitles) in the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater, comes to Washington for just two performances, the last of them tonight.

The piece is a joyful counterpoint to the tender "Three Sisters" that Donnellan's British company, Cheek by Jowl, mounted at the center earlier this week, under the auspices of the Chekhov International Theatre Festival. Performed in modern dress on a bare stage, this "Twelfth Night" wrestles giddily with the comic repercussions of masking one's true nature. With a man portraying the heroine Viola--who disguises herself as a male servant in the court of Duke Orsino--another crafty layer is added to the play's complex latticework of sexual attraction.

Non-Russian speakers should have no trouble with comprehension, especially since the actors deliver such sharply accessible portrayals. Andrey Kuzichev's Viola, for instance, is a subtle melding of masculine grace and feminine gesture. Special mention, too, should be made of Alexander Feklistov's deftly clownish Sir Toby Belch; it's a performance of bountiful physical charm. The charms, in fact, are in evidence all night. For tickets visit or call 202-467-4600.

By Peter Marks  | October 23, 2010; 9:58 AM ET
Categories:  Peter Marks, Reviews, Theater  | Tags:  Kennedy Center Twelfth Night Cheek by Jowl  
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