The Arts

Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night featured image

Reviewed by Paula Citron
August 8, 2011

Twelfth Night
Stratford Shakespeare Festival
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Des McAnuff
Performed by Suzy Jane Hunt, Mike Shara, Sara Topham, Brian Dennehy, Tom Rooney, Ben Carlson, Cara Ricketts, Stephen Ouimette and Trent Pardy
Festival Theatre
Jun. 26 to Oct. 28, 2011

Des McAnuff’s production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is very popular with audiences, but it’s not Shakespeare. How can it be when there is no attention paid to language or diction? When you’re lucky to catch every other word when the actors are turned away?

McAnuff’s theme is music –because so much of Shakespeare’s imagery in the play is about music – and the music has been written in many styles by McAnuff and Michael Roth. The main visuality is “guess the group or composer” as the chorus dresses up for each song or connecting musical interlude.

The production is filled with McAnuff’s predilection towards Broadway razzle-dazzle with props galore and all manner of visual tricks. Debra Hanson’s costume and set designs are totally overblown and the cross period makes no sense.

Some actors do rise above the fray like Tom Rooney’s Malvolio, but this production of excess is a travesty of Shakespearean theatre.

Twelfth Night continues at Stratford’s Festival Theatre until Oct. 28.

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