Thursday, 15 May 2003

Twelfth Night, Chambers TC, May 15, 2003

Twelfth Night  by William Shakespeare  Chambers Theatre Company  
 Theatreworks, May 15  to June 1, 2003
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on May 15

William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night  is a comedy with a dark edge. It incorporates all the tasty elements of Shakespearean comedy.

There is confused identity, pretty twins, cross-dressing, unrequited love, a naughty drunk, (Joe Clements) a witless aristocrat, (Phil Roberts) a sour servant, (Geoff Wallis) and a wise fool. (David Adamson)

This play invariably works at its best when the darkness and irreverence are highlighted. Alex Pinder,  director of this Chambers Theatre production, allows the grimness to surface only occasionally and more particularly, in the later scenes.
 He focuses more on the comic and romantic elements in the first half.

Shakespeare's jester,  Feste,  (Adamson) is witty and often vicious. Much of his cynical commentary is in verse, riddles and songs. Pinder keeps Feste on stage as a silent, objective observer of the shenanigans of the other characters. This works in part but leaves Feste with little to do but sit and watch much of the time.

The stage is almost bare. The cast, when off stage, remains seated on the sidelines, reminding us that they are actors and this is a play.

There are several fine performances. Julia Zemiro  gives an intelligent, detailed, truthful and witty interpretation of Olivia,  the grief-stricken lady of the house. When Olivia falls in love with her female servant, Viola/Cesario,  (Kate Doherty) her transformation is completely believable.

As Malvolio  the sneering supercilious servant to Olivia, Geoff Wallis almost steals the show. His comic timing is impeccable. He colours the character with detail and plays it for truth giving Malvolio both depth and enormous comic value.

Joe Clements  and Phil Roberts  make a good comic duo as the inebriated Sir Toby Belch  and his hapless sidekick, Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Arabella Davison  plays Maria as worldly and witty. Paul Canlan  is stately and credible as the lovelorn Count Orsino  and Jeremiah Tickell  is charming as Sebastian.

The music is an asset. The a cappella songs from Adamson and the cast are a delight. The final song provides some polish to the final rather lack lustre scene. This is an entertaining production with some excellent individual performances.

By Kate Herbert

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