02/22/2014 05:33 pm ET Updated Apr 24, 2014

Pig Iron Theatre's Twelfth Night, Downtown

How is it possible: two incredibly good productions of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night in the same season? One of the bard's bawdiest, the comedy inspired the recent Broadway hit featuring Mark Rylance as Olivia, in a brilliant stab at staying true to Elizabethan strictures: men play the women's roles. Rylance makes a damned good woman, but in the Pig Iron Theatre's production, the women (real women) are saucier, the partying heartier, the drink flowing so freely, viewers in the front row of the Abrons Center may require raincoats.

This raucous production features characters uniquely foppish, besotted, misguided, ridiculous, among them Toby Belch (James Sugg) in rose pants and gold chains, a fashion risk, you might say, while Feste's (Richard Ruiz) overcoat is held together by duct tape. Malvolio (Chris Thorn), perhaps the most wrongheaded of the lot, suits up in yellow tights, gartered. Maiko Matsushima's set features a swoosh, allowing actors to enter and exit spectacularly by sliding, hoisting themselves up to a balcony, or standing perilously perpendicular to the floor. A Balkan band aids the festivities: twins lost at sea and rescued, a girl disguised as a boy, unrequited love, a wedding. I wish this play an extended run, the better to see it again.

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