PUBLISHED: 2:03 PM on Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Shakespearean play 'Twelfth Knight' displays comic flare, light romance

Photo by Amanda Gragert
  Bina Chauhan as Viola in the imaginary world of Illyria in Shakespeare's "Twelfth Knight," which is now showing at the Perseverance Theatre.
A comedy with a heartfelt story. It is not the latest chick flick, but the Shakespearean play "Twelfth Knight," which will start playing at the Perseverance Theatre in Douglas on Wednesday, Oct. 26.

P.J. Paparelli, artistic theater director, said Shakespeare wrote "Twelfth Knight" after a string of comedies and before writing the psychological drama "Hamlet."

"This was a time when Shakespeare was maturing as an artist, and this play marks that transition in his life," said Paparelli, who is directing the play for the fifth time.

The story is about Viola and her brother Sebastian, twins who have been shipwrecked and separated in Illyria, a land of eccentric personalities. A complicated series of mistaken identities and misdirected passions ensue, with the play finally resolving in a triple wedding.

"This is such a family piece that goes from slapstick humor to a quint love story. It's a play to warm our hearts when it's cold and rainy outside," Paparelli said. "It's a roller coaster ride, from the depths of unrequited love to the side-splitting hilarity of obsessive excess. It's is a wonderfully enchanting, ridiculously funny ride that everyone has to experience at least once."

For those who find Shakespeare confusing, Paparelli said he strives to make the play clear for the audience.

"When I was a kid and would watch Shakespeare, I felt stupid. It's not fun to go see a play and only understand a piece here and there," Paparelli said. "The most important thing to me is that this play is clear, and we worked hard to make it clear."

A theme of the play that people can relate to in the play is the search for identity.

Bina Chauhan, who plays Viola, said her character searched to find who she is as a person. She then disguises herself as a boy and falls in love with the duke for whom she works.

"It's easy to relate to her in a lot of ways because she goes through things women go through today. She's a teenage girl who falls in love for the first time and is struggling with what to do with that," Chauhan said.

Chauhan came to Juneau in mid-September from New York City. She landed the role after her friend Flordelino Lagundino, who plays Sebastian, asked her to audition.

"I had gotten the role of Sebastian and P.J. asked if I knew of anyone to auditioned that looked liked me. Bina isn't Filipino but she's Asian and we look a lot like," Lagundino said.

Chauhan said knowing Lagundino has made moving to Alaska and her role in the play easier.

"He was the only one I knew when I came here and it fits into the story that we're doing because Viola is an outsider coming into this new world," Chauhan said. "The Juneau community is so welcoming. The art is really appreciated up there and everyone is excited for the next production. It's a nice place to escape and focus on work."

Lagundino said his character faces turmoil and feels guilty thinking his sister has died as a result of the shipwreck.

"He carries this guilt around and he doesn't know what to do with his life right now," Lagundino said.

"He never really gets his balance until he finds his sister again and the universe becomes whole again."