Twelfth Night | Monash Shakespeare Company
Rather than being separated in a shipwreck, “identical” twins Viola and Sebastian are teleported hundreds of years into the future and forced to survive in the bizarre world of the early 2000s with hysterical results. Not only is co-directors Emma Telfold and Georgie Mitchell’s concept of time-travel novel in itself, it actually melds quite well with the text, with Viola staring longingly up at the steampunk Tardis as she mourns her brothers lost to time. Along with the intricate time machine, the explosive wall art and hilarious album art of ‘The Duke’ adds energy and humour to James Walker and Katie Clark’s set. Katherine Board’s costumes fittingly appear as if they’ve stepped straight out of a noughties commercial, flooding the stage with rainbows, backwards caps, crocs and double denim. Likewise, the medley of 2000s hits is always hilarious, sometimes distracting and sometimes even moving.
But while the concept itself is cleverly executed, it is the actors who truly make the idea soar. Talia Zipper leads as the cross-dressing heroine Viola, melding longing grief for her brother and infatuation for the Duke with the chaotic humour of random duels and mistaken identity. Her adaptation to our world is a hilarious blend of triumphs and failures, becoming as enamored with cheesy snacks as Orsino and attempting to mimic his laid-back cockiness. Her twin takes the opposite route, with Matthew Schwab’s Sebastian staying a fish out of water even when decked in denim and having his Elizabethan manner quickly win over both lovers and fights.
Sprawled on a fluffy pink rug and skimming through her flip phone, Gabriella Heathcote’s Olivia is engaging in both her pride and growing infatuations. And Julian Mihal’s portrayal of ‘The Duke’ Orsino as a self-absorbed, Eminem-esque figure is hilarious yet somehow also manages to make his slow conversion to Viola’s partner seem natural. In contrast, Semus Horan’s Antonio follows the undercurrent of sadness through the play, with the devoted figure growing more dejected as the play goes on and falling short of his own happy ending.
But while the concept itself is cleverly executed, it is the actors who truly make the idea soar.
With a clever concept and a fantastic cast, Monash Shakespeare Company’s Twelfth Night makes it impossibly easy to get swept up in the waves of time.