Review: Twelfth Night

The Comic Coterie celebrate their theatre debut in a whimsical, lively, and hilarious production of the Twelfth Night. (Image source: Twelfth Night Facebook Page)

By Michelle Wakim | @MichelleWakim

In the Bakehouse Theatre, one of Adelaide’s hallmark performance spaces, The Comic Coterie explode into the Adelaide theatre scene with a joyful and invigorating rendering of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

The comic theatre group playfully interpret this Shakespeare classic. Spirited and bold characterisations dominate on-stage, and performers do not shy away from the heightened physicality that draws out the gems of Shakespearean humour. The cast engage well with the themes of mistaken identity, egocentric meddling, and foolish love triangles to reveal the eternal absurdity of the human condition.

The casting of Twelfth Night deserves praise. The ensemble share a chemistry which harbours many commendable performances. A particular acknowledgement is granted to Josh Langman’s portrayal of Malvolio, the gentleman in yellow tights, who sets the standard for on-stage presence and characterisation amongst this talented group.

Lia Devetzidis, director and actress in the role of Viola, has successfully condensed Twelfth Night into an hour-long production, working favourably for both actors and audience. The now moderate length ensures each scene is full of action, injecting further energy into the production.

Devetzidis’ innovative blocking and choreography builds a stable scaffolding for comedy in this production. Dynamic fight scenes, creative hiding places, and a lack of stagnation offers audiences a stimulating visual experience. For optimal impact, punches during the stage combat scenes can afford to be sharpened.

The set humbly compliments the work of the actors, allowing the vibrant performances and costumes to dominate the stage. The minimal props are used to maximum effect and suit this slapstick comedy well: a benchtop of wine glasses allows the actors to play with the extravagance that manifests when holding a wine glass, and an eclectic collection of hats, used in rotation, rest upon a hatstand.

Shakespearean plays can be divisive endeavours if handled carelessly. However, this ensemble use their proficient understanding of Twelfth Night, their instincts for humour, and collective cohesion to produce a show of widespread accessibility and enjoyment, even for those most resistant to Shakespeare. 

Twelfth Night is playing at the Bakehouse Theatre until February 27 2021.

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