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BWW REVIEW: Guest Reviewer Kym Vaitiekus Shares His Thoughts On TWELFTH NIGHT (HEADS OR TAILS)

TWELFTH NIGHT (Heads or Tails)

BWW REVIEW: Guest Reviewer Kym Vaitiekus Shares His Thoughts On TWELFTH NIGHT (HEADS OR TAILS)

You just might be saying "this is the Twelfth night, I have seen Twelfth Night" at the New Theatre in Newtown but TWELFTH NIGHT (HEADS OR TAILS) is a little different.

Director/Designer Victor Kalka has successfully experimented with this Shakespearean comedy. It has all the Baird's ingredients: a wedding, mistaken identities, misunderstandings, physical comedy, and a happy ending.

This production opens with the cast discovering which of two roles they will play via the toss of a coin. The twelve actors are in six pairs, the result is that there are 64 possible combinations of casting. As an audience member you are part of this Shakespearean folly, "is but fortune, all is fortune".

Shipwrecked on the shores of a foreign land and believing her brother to be dead, Viola is determined to survive. She disguises herself as a boy and goes to work for the lovesick Orsino, setting into motion a whirlwind chain of events of mistaken identity, unrequited love and elaborate pranks. In Illyria music is the food of love, and anything is possible.

This coin toss approach adds an extra challenge for the actors, they discover which role they will play thirty seconds before they become their characters. This adds to the excitement and challenge of live theatre.

An adage is that theatre is different every night due to the energy, the individual actors' performances, the element of chance and the risk that comes with a live performance.

This production's approach can add the excitement of surprise to the performances.

If an actor has one preferred character, they may add that extra passion when they, per chance, do that role. With the opportunity of varying combinations of casting, they have the delight of new interactions with almost new actors to engage with each night. One could assume that with so many actor variations, the cast would not develop a cohesive chemistry. To create that unifying performance that comes with rehearsal and an ongoing theatre run.

I did feel that it took twenty minutes for the cast to fall into a collective flow. To sort who fits where. With the gender blind casting on top of the gender swapping characters, maybe that was me discovering who was who. Once we got into the groove the cast have this energy that is passionate, compelling and engaging.

It is a joy to see the actors bring this festive, mischievous, and witty production to life with such verve and enthusiasm.

Director Victor Kalka's set is a simple and effective. It leaves the audience to enjoy the essence of the cast's performance. Some of the lighting lead to multiply shadows on the white backdrop wall, which did not seem deliberate or purposeful. Composer Lachlan Massey's opening soundscape is haunting and atmospheric. The musical numbers add to the joyousness and the final song was sublime.

In the Arts, of late, there has been an extensive examination of gender and sexuality. With ever changing opinions and personal individual experiences. This production opens other ways of seeing this debate. It adds other perspectives to consider.

On this night there were stand out performances. To pick out and mention a few would be unfair to the entire cast. Whichever night you attend you will see a passionate night of comedy, love and drama.

If you are a fan of Shakespeare or a fan of the performance process or a fan of an accomplished engaged and excited cast, you will have to see TWELFTH NIGHT (HEADS OR TAILS) at least once.

"Why, this is very midsummer madness."
- Olivia

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