‘The Twelfth Night, or What You Will’ by William Shakespeare a tale of disguise and deceit that leads to calamity, folly and mistaken love. This hilarious comedy was first performed in February 1602 (Candlemas), and yet not published until 21 years later. The title ‘Twelfth Night’ is a reference to the twelfth night after Christmas Day, called the ‘Eve of the Feast of Epiphany’.
The fast moving and delightful show is almost 3-hours of fun and excitement, so thankfully it has curtain-up at the earlier time of 7.00 pm. The production can be seen at the New Hayman Theatre, Building 302, Curtin University (enter off the Manning Road south entrance), Bentley. The play is divided up with Act One 90 minutes, and Act 2 60 minutes.
The season is Tuesday 26th April until Saturday 30th April. For FOUR NIGHTS ONLY be sure to book in advance on 9266-7026 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. There were a couple of young children (aged nine or ten?) in the audience who still understood most of the humour, however, I would recommend the play to 14 yrs. and up. This is a must for Year 12s studying any Shakespeare play.
As a postscript, I operated the lighting on ‘Twelfth Night’ when it was our school play – 60 years ago. Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music was Malvolio. This show has a Malvolia, a female part.
The Scene: is Illyria, an ancient region of the Western Balkans (Albania), whose western coast is on the Adriatic Sea, and was mainly populated by Celts. The time is a clever blend of ancient and modern.
Set: Sam Bar-Ari and Annalisa Cicchini gave us a stormy sea, a sleazy bordello and a walled garden. Good work.
Lighting Designer: Hayley Smith has produced a highly effective lighting design, with clever use of the colours and lighting levels. She took us from a storm to a moonlit garden. Excellent.
Lighting Assistant: Katharina Brieden never missed a cue. Sensitive use of the faders.
Sound Designer: Archer Larwood along with the director has given us a mad blend of pop music from the past three decades, that brought a smile. Snips of well-known tunes and intros matched the mood precisely.
Properties: Thomas Tasovoc and Jack Brown came up with foils (swords), masks, and exotic bushes that seemed to just pop up.
Stage Manager: Ella Wakeman was well organised, with various drinks, bottles and visual surprises behind the garden walls. With actors making entrances from 5 or 6 different areas, the play flowed surprisingly well. Ella received strong support from her Deputy Stage Manager, Cait Griffiths.
Production Manager: Stephen Carr, slick and impressive – the play, not Stephen – perhaps both.
After a massive storm at sea, Viola (Rebecca Haywood), with the aid of the Sea Captain (Angus Price), staggers ashore. assuming that her twin brother Sebastian (Rhys Healy) has been drowned, she is devastated. In a strange land, she decides that she will be safer dressed as a boy, and so calling herself called Cesario (Rebecca Haywood) she gets work as a page to Orsino, Duke of Illyria (Benjamin Taylor) – with whom she immediately falls in love. Orsino sends this new page, Cesario/Viola, to see Olivia and have ‘him’ put in a good word for him romantically.
The wealthy Countess Olivia (Elysha Hayes – moving) has turned down Orsino, for marriage, several times; but is immediately attracted to his new pageboy, Cesario. So Olivia has her steadfast stewardess, Malvolia (Cat Broom – outstanding) deliver a ring to him.
Olivia’s alcoholic uncle, Sir Toby Belch (Alex Comstock) dislikes the drab and stern Malvolia, so recruits Olivia’s gentlewoman, Maria (Jade Woodhouse), along with his very rich but dim friend, Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Oliver Charlton – hilarious) to plot. Sir Toby does not know that Sir Andrew also fancies Olivia. The group write a letter to Malvolia, pretending it has come from Olivia, and has his servant Fabian (Angus Price) deliver it.
Thinking that Olivia loves her, Malvolia follows the letter’s strange demands and appears in yellow stockings, cross-gartered, and smiling, to show her true love for Olivia. The Countess is dismayed by the strange woman and has Malvolia locked up in her cellar. Feste, the clown (Chiara Hadi) tries hard to cheer up Olivia.
However, Viola’s twin brother, Sebastian, has survived the shipwreck and is staying with his two-faced friend, Antonio (Adam Gannon, understudied by Thomas Tasovoc), who is wanted for piracy against Orsino.
Being jealous of Cesario’s closeness to Olivia, Sir Andrew challenges Cesario to a sword fight – to the death. However, Antonio mistakes Cesario for her twin, Sebastian, so defends his friend. In doing so, Antonio is arrested by one of Orsino’s men, Valentine/Officer (Tully Jones).
Will love come to any one?
Costume Designer Olivia Fellows must have been on psychedelic drugs when she designed the amazing collection. From the dowdy weeds of Malvolia to Sir Andrew Aguecheek’s overt taste in clothes; it took me back to the mid-60s and Flower Power. The Wardrobe team of Kiri Siva, Samantha Dewar and Annalisa Cicchini gave us well made, fine fitting fashion. The foil fight choreographer Natasha Kruger gave us some tense moments.
Director Michael McCall is one of WA’s most respected theatre lecturers and directors. He works hard on every play that he tackles, ensuring that every drop of emotion, excitement and style is squeezed out of a script and presented in a fresh and enthralling manor. Although I must have seen several different productions of Twelfth Night, in this presentation I learnt the presence or meanings of quite a few innuendos and implications that had previously slipped me by.
Shakespeare is difficult to present in a manor comprehensible to the general, or non-theatre going, public. It is richly written in a unique style, with inferences and confusion of characters. Shakespeare invented words when he could not find terms that precisely expressed what he wished. The dialogue must be perfectly paced and spoken with clarity.
It is obvious that the director has fully explained every little nuance of the script and ensured that the cast has captured each scene not simply in their heads but in their whole bodies. The performance by every actor conveyed to the audience the immense joy of this special play. Amazing acting and teamwork.
The actors made their entrances a split second before the last scene ended. This gave an air of excitement and generated a fast-moving play. The cast carried out the minor scene changes, again retaining the flow.
This play has been described as ‘a series of beautifully crafted vignettes threaded together into a rich, comic tapestry’.
A first-class production that will leave you with a smile on your face and admiration for this, the next generation of actors.