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Twelfth Night brings midsummer mischief, madness to Shakespeare Festival 

The Fourth of July tourists have finally left the beaches, and the weather is warm enough during the day to hit that breezy, perfect summer evening temperature. That's right: It's time for the annual Central Coast Shakespeare Festival.

Blankets and cash in hand for wine (and scrumptious fare from Beda's Biergarten), we made our way down the winding dirt road at Filipponi Ranch toward the amphitheater at the base of the hill while the sun was just starting to set for opening weekend of the festival, July 13.

click to enlarge UNDERCOVER Viola (Cassidy Cagney, center) masquerades as a young man named Cesario, which leads to an unexpected brawl. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF CENTRAL COAST SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL
  • Photos Courtesy Of Central Coast Shakespeare Festival
  • UNDERCOVER Viola (Cassidy Cagney, center) masquerades as a young man named Cesario, which leads to an unexpected brawl.
click to enlarge IN LOVE, WITHOUT A CLUE Olivia (Claire Gretlein) a wealthy heiress and countess falls in love with Cesario, who is really Viola. Uh oh! - PHOTOS COURTESY OF CENTRAL COAST SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL
  • Photos Courtesy Of Central Coast Shakespeare Festival
  • IN LOVE, WITHOUT A CLUE Olivia (Claire Gretlein) a wealthy heiress and countess falls in love with Cesario, who is really Viola. Uh oh!

On tap this year is Shakespeare's Twelfth Night along with Treasure Island, shown on alternating nights through Aug. 3.

As the bard himself writes, "Nothing that is so, is so."

Twelfth Night is all about trickery, gender bending, and looking beneath the surface. A tragic shipwreck leaves twins Viola (Cassidy Cagney) and Sebastian (Isaac Capp) separated and each believing that the other is dead. So when Viola washes up on the shore of Illyria, she decides to masquerade as a young man named Cesario. She promptly falls in love with Duke Orsino (Will Pena), who is in love with the Countess Olivia (Claire Gretlein), who falls in love with Cesario, who is really Viola.

Meanwhile Olivia's rowdy, drunken relative, Dame Toby Belch (PCPA alumna Willow Orthwein) is scheming to get her buddy, the equally drunken Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Cody Schmidt), married to Olivia. Dame Toby and Andrew, along with the fool, Feste (PCPA alum Jonathan Valerio), provide much of the show's comedic relief and classic Shakespearean dirty jokes—including this gem: "Many a good hanging prevents a good marriage."

click to enlarge TROUBLEMAKERS Dame Toby Belch (Willow Orthwein) and Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Cody Schmidt) provide much of the comic relief in Twelfth Night. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF CENTRAL COAST SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL
  • Photos Courtesy Of Central Coast Shakespeare Festival
  • TROUBLEMAKERS Dame Toby Belch (Willow Orthwein) and Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Cody Schmidt) provide much of the comic relief in Twelfth Night.

This is what you came for, folks.

The stars twinkled brighter and brighter above, and our bodies warmed with wine and laughter as we watched the lovers onstage slowly and hilariously work through the complicated web of he said, she said and mistaken identity. I couldn't help but agree: "Why, this is very midsummer madness." Δ

Arts Writer Ryah Cooley believes that brevity is the soul of wit. Contact her with a short note at rcooley@newtimesslo.com.

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