It’s been over 400 years since Shakespeare penned his comedy ‘ Twelfth Night’. Yet here we are in 2018 watching a rollicking update staged by Queensland Theatre full of audacious music from the pen of musical genius Tim Finn. I have watched Tim’s career since the early days when we youngsters were perplexed watching the whacky Split Enz play a gig at the Kippa -Ring Tavern. Crowded House’s ‘ Better Be Home Soon’ is one of my very favourite songs and Tim’s last foray into penning tunes for the theatre was for my very favourite musical last year- ‘ Ladies in Black ‘, so I was keen to see how he could successfully add 12 new tunes to the works of the Bard.
Queensland Theatre’s ‘ Twelfth Night ‘ directed by Sam Strong is like no Shakespeare you might have seen before. Think Rocky Horror Show meets Shakespeare meets wacky vaudeville show. The effervescent cast relish the roles they’ve been given and dazzle with their ability to breathe new life into a classic and well- loved play. It’s groundbreaking and very different to what you might expect.
Twelfth Night is a story of mistaken identity, madcap adventure and unrequited love. Duke Orsino thinks he is in love with Olivia who is steeped in grief after the loss of her brother. He sends his servant Cesario to ask for her hand. Yet Cesario is not who he seems and is himself in love with the Duke. Olivia promptly falls in love with Cesario (who is actually Viola), one of twins who were thought to be lost at sea. Mayhem and slapstick ensues with love triangles aplenty -add a band, a group of drunken friends and a few conniving and reckless servants and watch the fun unfold.
Liz Buchanan shines as the fair maiden Olivia and Jason Klarwein hams it up as a hilarious Duke Orsino. Christen O’ Leary shone and reminded me of a young Little Nell playing the energetic role of Malvolia. Logie – award winning Jessica Tovey is convincing in the dual roles of Viola/Cesario. Queensland Theatre favourites Sandro Colarelli, Kathryn McIntyre, Bryan Probets , Colin Smith and Kevin Spink immerse themselves in their roles , along with newcomer to Queensland Theatre – Kurt Phelan. The band playing Shakespeare’s tunes and new melodies from the pen of Tim Finn added to the party atmosphere. The set was a character unto itself -colourful, ever changing and at times temperamental.
Queensland Theatre is proving to be daring and modern in the plays it presents. If you haven’t seen Shakespeare before, this contemporary take on the Bard’s last foray into comedy may be a lighter option for you. It was clear the cast and crew were enjoying themselves immensely. The Opening Night crowd kept the party atmosphere going with a wonderful after party at Soleil Rooftop Bar at Rydges South Bank. ‘Twelfth Night ‘ will be playing at The Playhouse – QPAC until May 19. See if you can spot where Finn begins and Shakespeare ends!