Since the emphasis is on comedy, every effort is made to heighten the comic appeal of characters. For example, Nick Medina, who plays Sir Aguecheek, he does his utmost to sound hilarious. Even temporal settings are thrown to the wind for maximizing comic effect. Hence, though the original version is set in the early modern milieu, the particular re-enactment is difficult to locate temporally. We see Aguecheek dressed in disco trousers and riding an exercise bike without compunction. At the same time, the opening scene is faithful to the shipwreck instigated separation of Viola and Sebastian. The play is full of such interesting juxtapositions of historically accurate props and costumes with those that are incongruent.
There is another area where Shotgun Players go, which even the Bard had not dared attempt. It is in having Olivia kiss the disguised Viola (Cesario). At a time when such lesbian intimacies are still not widely accepted, to incorporate in a Shakespearean play speaks of bravado. Though the play has minor flaws in staging technique, co-ordination and vocalization, etc, it has to be lauded for this vein of daring.
Another striking feature of the play is how famous sonnets from Shakespeare’s other play are interlaced into the narrative at hand. This is quite refreshing to view and also offers new contexts and interpretations for the immortal sonnets.
Shotgun’s website boasts that the company, despite being small and limited in resources, pulls off big plays. While Twelfth Night is an attempt to fit this tag, the final outcome is largely convincing. One could point to the occasional clumsiness in staging technique or question the relevance of musical instruments to every scene. But when one considers the budgetary constraints and the dexterity of the members of the ensemble in donning several roles, the minor drawbacks can be forgiven. Besides, it is these imperfections which lend charm and freshness to the work. It truly is a triumph of experimentation and innovation.