By Victoria Chen
William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night starts with Illyria’s duke Orsino proclaiming, “if music be the food of love, play on.” As such, it would make sense that music and love would underscore the action of the play. Unfortunately, director Brendan O’Hea’s desire for simplicity has resulted in a rather stripped-down version of the play, possibly even stripping the play of its spirit.
Before the house lights go down, the actors enter from the aisle, with their energy more or less there. And that’s where it stays for the rest of the show; there is no ebb or flow, no build or release. Unlike the natural rhythm of Shakespeare’s comedies, the scenes and dialogue are so evenly paced and overly articulated that, apart from occasional musical interludes, the two hours seem to be nothing more than a conveyor belt of events. Before intermission, some audience members have already given up watching and started reading the plot on Sparknotes or their program booklets.
To be fair, a fair amount of them give a triple standing ovation at the end. The curtain call is perhaps the most energetic part of the entire show, as if the cast have been saving their energy the entire night for a musical number that does not even appear in the script. If not for Shakespeare’s writing, this show would be unable to stand in its own clunky boots.
There is still space for commendation. As Feste, Luke Brady’s voice fills the space whenever he sings, as if recharging the batteries of the production, and Sir Toby Belch (Russell Layton) and Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Sarah Finigan) are hilarious to watch, and the audience riot with laughter when Malvolio (Colm Gormley) appears in his yellow stockings.
All in all, Twelfth Night has potential to be a lovely evening experience, but there is no doubt that Shakespeare’s Globe can do better.
Date: 18th – 22nd September 2018
Venue: School of The Arts Concert Hall
Time: The Merchant of Venice: Tuesday 7.45pm, Friday 2.30pm / Twelfth Night: Wednesday 7.45pm, Thursday 7.45pm / Taming of the Shrew: Friday 7.45pm /Audience Choice: Saturday 2.30pm & 7.45pm
Admission: From $88 (Concessions available. Get your tickets here.)
Photographs courtesy of Shakespeare’s Globe