Directed by Edward Hall, the all-male
cast of Propeller Theatre create a punchy and brutal production of
Twelfth Night that explores what happens when you
fall in love with the wrong person.
Michael Pavelka’s set is
atmospherically eerie and has echoes of a past decadence, dusted with
cobwebs. With oversized, movable wardrobes, a broken chandelier and
mirrors lining the walls, it plays on the themes of disguise and
hints at a ship’s ballroom sunk beneath the sea.
The music, created by the company,
haunts the stage, while the group harmonies have the ability to
invoke both a raucous drinking hall and the sound of a broken heart.
As an ensemble the company sparks and
fizzes with each other as though it's playing with electricity.
Prowling the stage in the shadows, a constant presence creates the
sinister feeling of being watched, while masks allow leads to
become chorus, and vice versa.
The pairings of lovers create a dynamic
tension with Joseph Chance’s Viola momentarily forgetting herself
when Orsino (Christopher Heyward) breaks down under the weight of
his unrequited love while Ben Allen’s Olivia toys with Orsino’s
affection with a cat-like femininity. Raw and consuming masculine
love envelopes the play such as Antonio (Finn Hanlon)'s gut
wrenching desperation when Sebastian appears to abandon him.
This production does not shy away from
the violence and misery of unrequited love. While the comic scenes
are undoubtedly funny, Hall plays with the themes of hidden feelings
and internal passions by juxtaposing delicacy and cruelty. Vince
Leigh’s sterling performance as Sir Toby Belch brings this to the
forefront; on the one hand he's a rowdy drunk – demanding, swigging
from the bottle; on the other, a hollow and lonely man.
Propeller has once again served up a
delicious cocktail of Shakespeare with a twist. Bitter but playful,
this production utterly beautiful to watch. And as for the
cross-gartering? Zounds! Thou art in for a surprise!