Review: Twelfth Night

Repercussion’s latest is full of timeless quotes

By Byron Toben

Repercussion Theatre’s Shakespeare-in-the-Park production of Twelfth Night is pleasing audiences on many fronts. This echoes its subtitle, What You Will.

Here’s what you get in this theatrical smorgasbord. Take your pick (or all).

Imaginative directing from newly appointed artistic director Amanda Kellock, who succeeded the wonderful Paul Hopkins, who recently retired from Repercussion after an eight-year run.

A clever plot from the Bard, involving twins and mistaken identities. Shakespeare himself fathered twins – Judith and Hamnet – in 1585 and incorporated two sets of fraternal twins in his 1594 A Comedy of Errors and the one set of fraternal twins in the 1601 Twelfth Night.

Great quotes, as in all of Willy’s plays. Here, for example, the lovesick duke Orsino orders his musician, “If music be the food of love, play on…”

The hedonistic Toby Belch admonishes the uptight Malvolio, “Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?”

The same Malvolio, aiming for advancement, revels in the thought that “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

The twittish Andrew Aguecheek admits, “I am a great eater of beef, and believe that does harm to my wit.”

Dynamic actors

The love interests, who are tumbled by mistaken identities, are well portrayed by Emilia Hellman as twin Viola (disguised as Cesario) and twin Jesse Nerenberg as Sebastian – each think the other has drowned – and Mike Payette as Orsino and Rachel Mutombo as Lady Olivia, the object of his desires.

The comic characters add rich humour, with Paul Rainville as the uptight Malvolio, who feuds with the party guys, Matthew Kabwe as Sir Toby Belch and Adam Capriola as his sidekick, Sir Andrew Aguecheek. All three are somewhat manipulated by Letitia Brookes as Olivia`s maid, Marie.

Magical musical interludes are capped off by the ending, with The Wind and the Rain as performed by Gitanjali Jain as the fool/musician, Feste. Ms. Jain also composed Come Away, Death and Oh Mistress Mine.

The total effect, even without fairies or donkey heads, is suitable for a rich July eve, or, as Olivia refers to it, “this very midsummer madness.”

Oh yes, you also get a comic dance, some sword fighting and three marriages, so All’s Well That Ends Well… but that’s another play.

Twelfth Night plays at various Montreal parks throughout July, ending at Westmount Park on July 25 and 26. For information, call (514) 916-PARK or email 411@repercussiontheatre.com

Image: Jesse Nerenberg, left, Matthew Kabwe and Adam Capriolo. Photographed by Valerie Baron.

Byron Toben is a past-president of the Montreal Press Club.

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