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Eclectic Melting Pot: Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night, Shakespeare’s raucous exploration of gender, deceit, and debauchery, has been beloved for centuries for its timelessly witty comedy and memorable characters.

The show provides no shortage of exciting challenges for actors, rife with opportunities for physical comedy and larger-than-life characterisation within its complex and tightly woven narrative. Curtin University’s production shows a valiant effort to tackle one of Shakespeare’s more mammoth works.

Twelfth Night presented by Curtin’s Hayman Theatre. Photography by Leigh Brennan.

Olivia Fellows’ costume design is colorful and eccentric, although each character seems to exist visually within a different time and place. This lack of cohesion led to some confusion in the context of this reinterpretation. Scene transitions are supported with colourful disco lights and songs that are sometimes recognisably modern and sometimes evoking a traditional Shakespearian sensibility.

Sam Bar-Ari’s set is simple and bare, providing the actors with plenty of space to play. Michael McCall’s classical style of direction challenges the audience’s imagination. 

Twelfth Night presented by Curtin’s Hayman Theatre. Photography by Leigh Brennan.

Rebecca Haywood brings a delicate groundedness to protagonist Viola. Against Elysha Hayes’ confrontational and eccentric Olivia, their relationship is tumultuous and lively. Angus Price’s stoic Fabian is a striking and powerful presence. Jade Woodhouse brings charisma and intellect to the prankster mastermind Maria. Cat Broom presents a highly stylized Malvolia that is both hilarious and honest. I found myself rooting for her most of the show, much to my surprise. Alex Comstock’s Sir Toby Belch is truly the heart of this production. Comstock shows great comic sensibility interwoven in a distinct and engaging emotional arc, approaching an often-underutilised character with excitement and liveliness. The devilish chemistry between Comstock, Woodhouse and Price really steals the show. 

Curtin University’s Twelfth Night is an eclectic melting pot of bold choices, passion, and outrageousness. I am excited to see what this group of young people gets up to next!

Twelfth Night runs at the Hayman Theatre until April 30.

Book via haymantheatre@curtin.edu.au or call 9266-706