Twelfth Night

Last Thursday to Twelfth Night, produced by Siren Theatre at the ATYP .

I went on the recomendation of Nicholas Pickard, who wrote (in part):

“Walking into Twelfth Night in the magically transformed theatre of Australian Theatre for Young People in Walsh Bay, you immediately feel like you are entering a very special world.”

It may have been magically transformed, but it still left something to be desired. The theatre itself is enclosed by a kind of slab wall (you can see the late afternoon light coming in through the cracks) underneath the main concourse level of the Wharf Theatre. Further up the wharf, the Sydney Dance Theatre conducts dance classes. Those attending the classes then hang around outside the theatre and shout out and call to each other – all fairly clearly audible inside the theatre. Maybe they should try a “Quiet – Performance in progress” sign outside rather like the signs outside exam rooms. I found the noises off quite distracting.

As I have commented on Nicholas’s blog, there was a lot which was commendable about the performance/production, but I didn’t find it such a stunning success as Nicholas did. Perhaps I get to see less theatre than he does, and either I am less of a buff or else I see less really terrible stuff than he does. Though these needn’t be mutually exclusive, I favour the first explanation: if I were more of a theatre enthusiast, I would see the glass half full of the good aspects of the performance, much as I probably would for a similar level of musical performance. Otherwise, perhaps the moral is that a performance which is worth $25 (that was the ticket price, and I’m not saying it wasn’t worth the price of admission) is unlikely to be worth it for me. This was roughly the reasoning on which one friend turned down my suggestion that she come along with us.

There were only 7 actors. This also imposed an extra level of difficulty in terms of appreciation, although there was one rather good piece of business playing against that when Sir Anthony Aguecheek and Sebastian (played by the same actor) fought each other by “exchanging” blows and emerging from behind a curtain with instantly exchanged hat and other costume accoutrements.

The main thing this production made me appreciate was the extreme difficulty of creating what I think of as the necessary lyricism (itself a compound of many things: I’m not saying there is only one way to get there) for Shakespearean comedy. Kate Gaul (the director) had lots of good ideas and the production was headed in the right direction, but for me it didn’t quite get there unless I willed myself to go there with it, which still felt a bit of a strain. It made me appreciate what Bell Shakespeare managed in As You Like It all the more in retrospect. Some of it is probably resources; some of it is probably experience; and some of it, I suspect, is just good old fashioned technique. This is not to say that the actors in this production were lacking in that, but they were still a young cast.

Others in the audience enjoyed it more than I did, though I also suspected that rather a lot of them may have been friends and relations.  There was a bit of a “luvvie” atmosphere afoot.  The woman who sold us our tickets laughed the loudest.

One Response to “Twelfth Night

  1. Club Troppo » Missing Link Daily Says:

    […] gives a lukewarn review to an Australian Theatre for Young People production of Twelfth Night in […]

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