William Pierce & Kyleigh Herring in 12th Night. Photo: IUS

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12th NIGHT

By William Shakespeare
Adapted and Directed by Tyler Tate

A review by Regina Harris

Entire contents are copyright © 2023 by Regina Harris. All rights reserved. 

Brand new college freshmen hanging out in the quad. A frat party complete with red Solo cups. Rush week. Pledges. A real college campus provides the setting of a fictional college campus in this meta moment by Indiana University Southeast’s production of 12th Night, a Shakespeare adaptation by Tyler Tate, which opened Friday at the Ogle Center. Cleverly transforming the Bard’s comic characters into college caricatures, Tate captures the excitement of the first taste of young adult autonomy with all its misinterpretations, infatuations, and misdirected decision-making. The energetic pace of the convoluted storyline becomes accessible under Tate’s skillful direction. The players squeeze every bit of fun from the text, fully utilizing the generous space of the Ogle Center stage while also making the experience intimate – you feel part of each interaction as it happens. For any adult, especially Gen X and Y, it will bring back memories.

Except for a few rushed lines, the actors truly embraced their characters. Avery Wilson was a special standout, not just for rocking bright yellow plaid, but her amusing frustration with all those determined confounds her attempts to protect her friend (and crush) Olivia is hilarious. Kyliegh Herrin shines as saucy and temperamental material girl Olivia. (Extra props to Kyliegh Herring’s assistance with costume design, along with Jesse Crull, Lee Couveau, Julie Jakubiak, and Costume Designer Natalie Bowman. No clue where they found a Walkman, but good job!) Cheri Receveur and Mal Haynes are the perfect Polly Perfects, Captain, and Maria. 

Perpetually inebriated and excessively hyper Toby and Andrew (L. McKinley and Daniel Barrett) were a hoot, along with grungey Jestin (William Pierce) carrying the requisite boombox and strumming a guitar. Completing the talented cast were Peter Tackett as preppy Sebastian and Brady Anderson as Sebastian’s good friend Antonio. I wish they had a reason for more stage time. But it is Abigail Knoop as Viola who brings the whole production together. Entreated by Count Orsinio to dress as a man to woo Countess Olivia on his behalf, the plan backfires when Olivia falls in love with “Cesario” while Orsino falls for Viola herself. Trying to be all things to all people, Knoop gives an honest and empathetic portrayal of the stress as well as the humor of her situation. Kudos.  

Bravo also to Scenic, Lighting, and Props Designer Rebecca J. Meixner-Hanks on her spare but impactful set design, a true definition of “less is more.” The illusion of stone pavers on the lawn, along with a couple of balustrades and outdoor benches added texture to the simple set. The subtly effective lighting plot capped the impeccable design. The grunge rock soundtrack by Nick Burdette was fun without being distractingly loud or worse, overwhelming. This production of 12th Night is so much fun. Job well done to Tyler Tate and all the cast and crew of this high-spirited comedy.

12th NIGHT

November 10, 11, 17, 18 @ 7:00 PM
November 12, 19 @ 2:30 PM

Ogle Center
Indiana University Southeast 
4201 Grant Line Road
New Albany, IN 47150

Regina Harris has lived in Louisville for nearly three decades and has worked for many of its premier theatre companies and venues. She earned a degree in Humanities from the University of Louisville and currently works as a Youth Development Specialist at United Crescent Hill Ministries. To express her love for great food as well as Louisville’s history and architecture, she is a tour guide with Louisville Food Tours.