TRIUMPHANT TWELFTH NIGHT – review by Lucy Eyre
It has been a thrill to see Pop-up Globe emerge as part of Perth’s cityscape and even more exciting to enter this extraordinary theatre space. Founder and Artistic Director Dr Miles Gregory, and Chief Executive Officer Tobias Grant have created an amazing opportunity to experience Shakespeare’s plays as they would have been enjoyed 400 hundred years ago. It is no mean feat to erect a replica of London’s Globe Theatre but the team have done a fantastic job. Not only does the venue take your breath away as you enter, the stage and auditorium are filled with treasures to discover.
The opening night audience at Twelfth Night were very eager for the experience and seemed to revel in the atmosphere from beginning to end. The ensemble of actors set the tone immediately by interacting with the audience, putting them at ease to enjoy the merriment.
The action begins with the shipwreck that separates brother, Sebastian, and sister, Viola who wash up on the island of Illyria, both suspecting the other to have drowned. The play mainly centres around the household of Countess Olivia who is in mourning for the death of her brother. Olivia rejects all wooers for her affection and hand in marriage until she encounters Cesario (Viola in disguise) who visits Olivia to plead for his (her) master Orsino, the Duke of Illyria who is in love with Olivia.
What follows is a delightful romp of mistaken identity, cross-dressing (for the purpose of disguise), juxtaposed with a revenge plot. Maria, Olivia’s lady in waiting, and the steward of the household, Malvolio, are in a psychological battle to be ‘top dog’ of the household, each wanting to rise above their station. When Malvolio threatens Maria and insults Sir Toby (Olivia’s uncle) they hatch a plan to humiliate him. Their plan does take a more sinister turn, famously taking the play out of comedy toward tragedy, though there’s plenty going on in the other plotlines to keep the frivolity rolling out.
The ensemble of actors and musicians, under the expert leadership of director Miles Gregory, deliver wonderful performances. Gregory certainly has a skill for milking Twelfth Night’s plot and dialogue: creating uplifting, hilarious moments, then grounding the play with flashes of tenderness. There were times when the voices of the actors lacked volume and clarity which might have made the plot difficult to follow for some audience members who don’t know the play.
Notable performances were from Sheena Irving as Olivia, Harry Bradley as Orsino, Rebecca Rogers as Viola, Peter Hambleton as Sir Toby Belch, and Johnny Light certainly revels in the antics of Sir Aguecheek. Jonathan Martin proves to be an extremely dexterous actor who seamlessly shifts between playing Malvolio and the Sea Captain.
The eclectic costume designs by Bob Capocci are extraordinary, and the score by musical director Paul McLaney beautifully punctuates then suitably modulates the production. Alexander Holloway’s stage combat sequences are playful yet carefully realised, and choreography and movement direction by Brigid Costello skilfully lifts the production by creating lively scene transitions.
Special mention to Malcolm Dale (Head of Scenic Workshop) and scenic construction crew Andrew Brown and Anatonio Te Maioha for the magnificent set and attention to detail.
Congratulations to the director, cast and creatives on a wonderful opening to this season of Shakespeare.
Don’t miss this unique opportunity to experience Pop-up Globe. Twelfth Night, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Measure for Measure make up the repertoire for this limited season until 24th November 2019.
Tickets from $10 to $160. Available at https://www.ticketmaster.com.au/popupglobe
Average running time for each play is 2 hours 30 minutes (including a 15 minute interval).