Arts & Entertainment

The Twelfth Night or What You Will

John Howard Photo: Brett Boardman

Be prepared for an evening of lots of tights and velvet. There’s a quote of Shakespeare’s; “Be not afraid of greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness and others have greatness thrust upon them.”  Eamon Flack’s production of The Twelfth Night or What You Will currently at Belvoir Street theatre – an evening of music, drunkenness and chaos – is greatness thrust upon us.

One of Shakespeare’s most celebrated comedies and penned in 1601, the play is performed nearly exactly how it was written. That means some of the play is now archaic nonsense and you may have trouble deciphering it. It is the oddness of it combined with the bard’s unique prose that make it so enjoyable.

We’re entertained while we wait for the performance from the start. Nine white faced characters dressed in archaic white smocks silently mill around the stage like people in Bedlam.

“If music be the food of love, play on.” – another famous quote from the play is apt, considering the importance of music to Twelfth Night, and the spice the musical score adds. Emele Ugavule (Antonio) sings in a great voice and plays ukulele, there’s bells ringing, Baroque music and percussion on an elevated stage. In fact it’s the added musical touches that make the performance so watchable.

Popular actor John Howard plays Toby Belch, looking very comfortable in his skin, a roguish character, perpetually drunk and usually by the side of Sir Andrew (Anthony Phelan), they make a jovial pair.

Viola (Nikki Shiels) and Sebastian (Amber McMahon) are lookalike twins, in red baggy caps and white/blue tights; women dressed as men, causing  the play’s utter gender confusion.

The hilarious characters seeking love in the wrong places make this play a must see, if you haven’t seen it already. (MS)

Until Sept 4. Upstairs Theatre, Belvoir Street Theatre, 18 & 25 Belvoir St, Surry Hills. $37-$72. Tickets & info: www.belvoir.com.au or 9699 3444

BY MEL SOMERVILLE

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