"If music be the food of love, play on."William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
I recently had the great fortune to witness another outstanding Queensland Theatre production. Twelfth Night, one of Shakespeare's most comical works, reimagined with original songs by Tim Finn, is playing at The Playhouse, QPAC, at South Bank until the 19th of May.
The energy on opening night was electric. My expectations were high, after all Twelfth Night is brilliant in print and nothing is sure to heighten the written word than seeing it brought to life before your very eyes. This production is a must see.
IN A NUTSHELL: Viola (Jessica Tovey) , disguised as man named Cesario(Jessica Tovey), has fallen in love with her master, Duke Orsino (Jason Klarwein). However, Orsino believes he is head over feet for the beautiful Olivia(Liz Buchanan). Olivia dedicated to mourning the loss of her beloved father and brother, continues to reject Orsino's many attempts to woo her. Unexpectedly she meets and falls for Cesario when Viola, otherwise known as Cesario, is sent by the infatuated Orsino on a mission to woo Olivia on his behalf.
"OLIVIA: How does he love me? VIOLA: With adoration, with fertile tears, With groans that thunder love, with sighs of fire." William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
Add to the swirling mix of mistaken identities, missing twin, half-truths, cross-dressing, and a mysterious letter penned and used as subterfuge by Olivia's trusted servant Maria (Kathryn McIntyre). Chaos, hilarity and cringe worthy moments ensue.
A sly twist of an O to an A created Malvolia. It has to be said that having Christen O'Leary (Neighbours, Rush, Blue Heelers, Much Ado About Nothing, Ladies In Black) possess the character was nothing less than genius casting. She may have stolen the show. Then again, you take that risk when you cast such a high calibre actor. She can do it all and, most importantly, you always believe her.
"Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them." William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
It is clear that Jessica Tovey (Home and Away, Wolf Creek, Underbelly, Dance Academy) has mastered the art of comedic timing. Cesario's frustration rang loud and clear, not only through words, but also with her every gesture, hesitation and movement. She did outstanding work as Viola and Cesario.
The legendary Tim Finn (Split Enz, Crowded House) composed original music for Twelfth Night. He created songs that had me hypnotically swaying in my seat. I knew it would be so because, well Ladies in Black! His song writing ability and musicality is truly undeniable. To accompany great music you need great voices, and Brisbane - this cast can really sing!
"If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die."
― William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
As for the writer, Shakespeare knows the heart well. Twelfth Night pulls all the punches a dark comedy should. It celebrates love in every way. This four hundred year old play may have words that mean different things today but its core is as solid as it is relevant. The heart wants what the heart wants. Although at the end, you have all 'the warm and fuzzy feels', you can see in the background where they usually live - the broken heart, the betrayed heart and the heart that no one is chasing.
It is a great tale superbly presented by Queensland Theatre. Bravo to the immensely talented cast and crew!
I must mention the stage design and lighting because they, too, played their part exceedingly well.
VIOLA/CESARIO - Jessica Tovey.
DUKE ORSINIO Jason Klarwein
OLIVIA - Liz Buchanan
MAVOLIA Christen O'Leary
SIR TOBY BELCH - Bryan Probets
SEBASTIAN - Kevin Spink
MARIA - Kat McIntyre
FESTE - Sandro Colarelli
ANTONIO/VALENTINE - Kurt Phelan SIR ANDREW AGUECHEEK - Colin Smith
Director Sam Strong Composer Tim Finn Music Supervision/Orchestration and Arrangements James Dobinson Designer Tracy Grant Lord Lighting Designer Ben Hughes Sound Designer Michael Waters Assistant Director Travis Dowling Assistant Designer Vilma Mattila Musicians include James Dobinson, Alanna Ritchie, Arun Roberts, Dominic Woodhead