It is that time of the year for the Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble to stage their annual Shakespeare in the park at the Roma Street Parklands Amphitheatre. This year it will be one of Shakespeare's funniest comedies, Twelfth Night, that will be staged in the park.
The Twelfth night is a fun comedy that plays on gender roles. Two twins, Viola & Sebastian, are separated on the Balkans (Illyria) Coast by a shipwreck. Viola has disguised herself as a man using the name Cesario after being rescued and falls in love with Duke Orsino, who is in love with the Countess Olivia. But when Viola/Cesario is asked to act as an intermediary between Orsino and Olivia, the countess falls in love with Cesario. Don't worry, the plot will become in more confused when Viola's twin brother, thought drowned, turns up on the scene.
Malvolio courts Olivia in a scene from the Twelfth Night
While not everyone has seen The Twelfth Night, most people will be familiar with the quote "If music be the food of love, play on." But most people haven't heard the rest of the quote which is "Give me excess of it; that surfeiting, The appetite may sicken, and so die." So why not see the whole play to really understand what is behind one of Shakespeare's most quoted lines.
The Twelfth Night is a fun romp, with a lovely romantic twist. The Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble always makes sure to play these stories with great irreverence, as they should be staged.
Photo of The Twelfth Night rehearsals courtesy of QSE
The amphitheater in the Roma Street Parklands is a little used yet wonderful venue for staging performances. The Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble puts the audience on the stage facing out onto the park. This means that the performance can continue even when it is raining. You won't get wet, but if it is cold, bring a warm jacket.
The performance occurs on the stage close to the audience while also using the wider park space for some aspects of the play. A few years ago I saw their production of The Tempest at Roma Street Parklands while it was raining, and the thunder and lightning provided background atmosphere for the performance.
Photo of rehearsals at the amphitheater at the Roma Parks courtesy of QSE
Parking is usually not a problem at the Parklands, with a couple of pay carparks next to the park. Public transportation is not really a problem either as you can easily stop off at the Roma Street bus or train stations. But if you come by bus you have to walk through the train station to the parklands. Be aware that the theatre is on the upper level of the park, so it can be easier to drive and try and find a parking spot on Wickham Terrace.
There is also a lack of restaurants around the park. Having been there for several years now, we tend to take a picnic or a have a barbecue at one of the many spots around the park. The best barbecue area is the one behind the waterfall and beside the lake with the fountain.
Normally we have a picnic or a barbecue in the parklands before watching the play
Throughout the year they stage a number of Shakespearean productions that feature both their experienced cast as well as lots of young upcoming talent. Their productions are both innovative while trying to remain true to the intention of the play.