Tim Crouch brings I, Malvolio to Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Tim Crouch brings I, Malvolio to Chicago Shakespeare Theater
TimCrouch. Image by Greg Goodal .

In a fast-paced 75-minute one-man show British actor Tim Crouch rocked the theater Upstairs at Chicago’s Shakespeare Theater (CST), Thursday night, with his take on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night through the eyes of Olivia’s pompous steward Malvolio.

Crouch, described as “one of the smartest artists making theatre in Britain now,” is a multi-talented theater maker who writes, performs and produces new work. He is known for rejecting theatrical conventions while engaging audiences in an active role during performances.

His work has been well-received by critics and audiences throughout the world including Sydney, Singapore and New York.

I, Malvolio is part of Crouch’s popular collection of original plays including, I, Caliban; I, Peaseblossom and I, Banquo that shed light on some of the Bard’s more shadowy and lesser known characters by telling the story through their eyes.

The I, Malvolio story, as told by Crouch is part about the character of Malvolio and part about Crouch as a performer but even more about the audience witnessing the play.

Crouch is already on stage, standing almost statue still in a back corner quietly mumbling to himself, as he assesses the audience entering the theater.

The lights remain on throughout the performance so Crouch can continue to observe the audience and play on their reactions. He maintains complete control over his audience, making them laugh then berating them for it.

Crouch’s rapid-fire delivery holds the rapt attention of the audience with many shouting out verbal responses to his questions and meanderings.

He brings some audience members on stage where they became part of the show. He commands the entire audience to sit up straight and remain that way–which they do–while he leaves the stage and then returns.

Part intelligent banter, part slapstick and at times a little crude, the thought-provoking I, Malvolio, takes the audience on a ride unlike any other.

He leaves his audience sitting straight up in their seats, still questioning, when he exits the stage at the end of the show. OR is it the end? Many in the audience were still waiting as we left the theater.

Tim Crouch created and stars as Malvolio in his one-man show I, Malvolio, presented by Chicago Shakespeare Theater as part of Shakespeare 400 Chicago, June 2–5, 2016. For tickets and information, click here.

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