Choosing the play is easy. Twelfth Night
, Shakespeare's bright winter comedy, received two productions during the past year; both were satisfying, for quite different reasons. The tricky part comes in choosing which production was best. The student version at Washington University's Edison Theatre gets high marks for a sumptuously simple set, designed by artist-in-residence Christopher Pickart and gorgeously lit by David Vogel. Wash U. also gets kudos for knowing to use the play's complete title, Twelfth Night, or, What You Will
-- which is fundamental to a full appreciation of the comedy's theme. The St. Louis Shakespeare production at the Grandel Theatre, though simpler in ambition and shorter in title, did one thing exceedingly well. Without stooping to conquer, it played for laughs and got them. Bottom line: The Best Shakespeare was Twelfth Night
at St. Louis Shakespeare -- by a chortle.