Joyful Shakespearean comedy warms a Sydney winter
What country, friends, is this?
Viola (Act 1, Sc 2)
Eamon Flack will turn his magic touch for comedy to one of the Bard’s finest delights Twelfth Night or What You Will as a warming winter treat for Sydney audiences. In the 400th year since Shakespeare’s death the jokes will be just as hearty in the production for audience both young and old.
Twins are washed up after a shipwreck on the shores of a strange land, each unaware of the other’s fate. They’re in Illyria, which is strangely like our world: the repressed and the debauched are at constant war, the desires of men and women seem eternally thwarted. But this is a dreamland too – where music is the food of love, and nobody is quite what they seem. Girls are boys, boys are girls, puritans are lusting suitors, drunkards are moralists, and fools, of course, are wise. Eventually brother and sister find each other again – that’s hardly a spoiler – but what will they see and hear in the meantime?
There’s more to Shakespeare’s great play than muddled identity and exuberant celebration – it’s a mature story of melancholia amid the mayhem, of what is lost along the way even when life’s journey is a barrel of laughs.
Our cast is an embarrassment of riches: Peter Carroll (The Great Fire, Seventeen) as the killjoy Malvolio and the wonderful Nikki Shiels makes her Belvoir debut as Viola with the delightful Amber McMahon (Angels in America) as her twin Sebastian. They are joined by an array of rogues and charmers. John Howard (Ivanov), Anthony Phelan (Once in Royal David’s City, The Wild Duck) and Lucia Mastrantone (The Book of Everything) as the Countess Olivia’s coterie of friends and staff, Anita Hegh ( The Wild Duck, The Seagull) as the Countess herself, and Damien Ryan (Nora) as the Duke of Illyria. Emele Ugavule (Mother Courage and Her Children) will play Antonio, the ship’s captain, and she will play the piano to accompany the singing new songs by acclaimed composer Alan John.
We are thrilled to announce that one of Belvoir’s favourite performers, Keith Robinson (Hamlet, The Alchemist), will be making a long awaited return to the stage. Robinson contracted the neurological condition Guillain-Barre syndrome ten years ago, which has kept him from the stage. In Twelfth Night or What You Will he will play Feste the fool, using his wheelchair.
After his celebratory A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2010 and the joyous As You Like It in 2011, Flack turns his enthusiasm for Shakespearean comedy to this generous, family-friendly production of Twelfth Night or What You Will.