Like the topsy-turvy celebrations of the Twelfth Night in Christian tradition, in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night nothing is as it appears. A pair of separated twins reunited, a series of misdirected affections and declarations of love, and a fool apparently in control of it all make up this jumbled comedy.
Sport for Jove’s Twelfth Night, directed by Christopher Stollery, glorifies the play’s exuberant humour with extreme characterisation and frequent subtle contemporary insertions and ad libs to the script that demonstrate the company’s playfulness. Misunderstanding runs rife in Illyria which is only exacerbated by witty wordplay and conniving tricksters meddling in the art of love.
As Viola disguised as Cesario, Rebecca Montalti is dashing and likeable, particularly in comparison to her would-be rival Sir Andrew (James Haxby) who makes a hilariously flimsy attempt at wooing Countess Olivia (Adele Querol). Haxby’s spindly physical humour and foolish characterisation with excellent comic timing provide many laughs as he navigates his subplot with the alcoholic Sir Toby (Septimus Caton) and wicked Maria (Wendy Strehlow). Lexi Sekuless as Malvolia was another audience favourite for her Valley Girl intonation and cutting remarks which were performed with a delicious relish.
Overseeing the chaos of overlapping love triangles and mistaken identities is Feste the Fool (Jay James-Moody) played as an out-of-it wanderer with Golds Gym merch and a fanny-pack. Seeing James-Moody wheel his packed shopping trolley from side-stage with boombox blaring was a promise for wisdom disguised as foolishness delivered with a careful and easy control.
With an aesthetic of 1980s glam rock, the design captured the particular heart-throb quality of a teenage unrequited love. Costume design from Fiona Victoria Hopkins was outstanding with oversized jackets, bedazzled belts, and layers and layers of lace and denim. The heaven-meets-the-Hamptons concept for Count Orsino (Christopher Stalley) and his ilk deserves particular mention for its crystal on white on white design as well as Malvolia’s grape bodysuit for being simply ludicrous.
Sometimes what you think you want with all your heart isn’t what you end up with and your dogged attempts to defy fate prove more hilarious than heroic. For the stumbling lovers of Twelfth Night love that is true to who you are wins out.
Twelfth Night is running at Parramatta Park’s Old Government House from February 2nd – March 1st as part of Sport for Jove’s Summer Season