This is Illyria

What You Will Equity Co-op

What You Will Co-opTwelfth Night
by William Shakespeare

Dates and Venue 2 -24 July, 2010 | Jericho Arts Centre
1675 Discovery St, Vancouver

Director Tariq Leslie Assistant director Tamara McCarthy Set Tariq Leslie & Kyla Gardiner Lighting Kyla Gardiner Costumes  Kenda Ward Fight choreographer Nicholas Harrison Stage Manager Jethelo E. Cabilete

Reviewer Elizabeth Paterson

What better place for a play about a ship-wrecked family than a theatre by the beach. Jericho Arts Centre’s intimate space only improves the choice of venue.

Twelfth Night is a rollicking play of mistaken identity, thwarted love and misguided antics delicately tinged with Shakespearean melancholy. Tariq Leslie and the What You Will Equity Coop have attacked the challenge of getting the right balance between high jinx and romantic love with a low-key approach to the low comedy and an emphasis on love’s mistakes and magic.

Trevor Devall as Duke Orsino was languid in his self-indulgent infatuation for the Lady Olivia (Lori Triolo) She in turn was breathless on seeing Orsino’s new page, Cesario, the ship-wrecked Viola (Courtney Lancaster) in disguise as a boy. Lancaster was quietly assured as Cesario, which worked very well throughout the romantic plot of the play. As her twin brother Sebastian, Adam Bergquist was solid and confident and beautiful enough to fall in love with at first sight.

The sub-plots are driven by Olivia’s spendthrift cousin, Sir Toby Belch (Michael Smith), a merry-maker with a mean streak. He has enticed the wealthy but brainless Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Paul Herbert) to court Olivia, chiefly in order to subsidize his own carousing. Also in Olivia’s household are a lady- and gentlemen-in-waiting, Maria, (Bronwen Smith), Curio (Ross Smith) and Fabian (Ashley O’Connell). On the professional staff are Malvolio, her steward (Tariq Leslie) and Feste, her fool (John Prowse). Malvolio is the boss from hell and makes the enjoyment of life difficult for all the rest, including Sir Toby. They plot to make a fool of him in front of Olivia and even lock him up as a mad-man.

Tariq Leslie’s Malvolio was a pompous busy-body. Having been fooled into believing that Olivia is in love with him, Malvolio muses on what he will do as soon as he has married her. Leslie took centre stage for this speech, with proper Malvolian ego side-lining the running commentary from Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and the other plotters. Later, imprisoned up-stage behind iron bars, he was extremely moving, very simple and expressive.

Paul Herbert’s ever perfect timing lifted the degree of hilarity and Ashley O’Connell’s presence brought depth.

John Prowse's Feste brought a fey enchantment to the production and a suggestion of the darker and disturbing currents lying beneath the frothy surface of this play. Mercurial but never flamboyant, he was at once professional fool and teller of fortunes, partying house musician and bleak singer.  He was abetted in this accomplishment by the music, sensitively and intelligently set by Ross Smith who also provided guitar accompaniment.  

Commendations for the excellent speech from everyone in the cast and the good ensemble playing.  Generic Victorian costumes, a plain set and delicate lighting rounded out the production.  

© 2010 Elizabeth Paterson