“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” – William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night.
Perth’s Pop-Up Globe performance of Twelfth Night was a truly magical affair where the crowd filled the open-air theatre with eruptions of laughter as they stomped and clapped along to this high energy romantic comedy about the complexities of love.
At the beginning of the night, artistic director and founder Miles Gregory warned the audience of the madness and fun that was about to play out on stage, noting it wasn’t going to be “dusty, old Shakespeare.” What ensued was an enthralling performance where Shakespeare’s original text and storyline entwined with modern-day references and humour – the Crown Burswood hotel and vegans bore the brunt of some of the jokes – to engage a contemporary audience of devoted fans and those who haven’t studied Shakespeare before. It definitely struck a chord with the audience who were called upon the stage, splashed with water, asked to call out as well as dance with the sailors as they ran out amongst the groundlings.
Considered as one of Shakespeare’s wittiest plays, today, Twelfth Night still remains one of the most relevant for this generation, despite being written in the early 17th century. It follows the journey of Viola and her twin brother Sebastian who after being shipwrecked off the coast of Illyria, believe that the other has drowned. While neither have, Viola decides to dress as a young man and names herself Cesario as a way of getting a job as a servant for the governor of Illyria, Duke Orsino. Her one task for Orsino, who is one among many suitors, is to entice Countess Olivia into marrying him. However, Olivia is fooled by Viola’s disguise and falls in love with Cesario instead. The love triangle forms when Viola falls in love with her master Duke Orsino. The play ends with the return of Sebastian who marries Olivia after she mistook him for Cesario and the recognition of the love between Duke Orsino and Viola after her true identity is revealed. Within the beauty of its poetic passages and declarations of love, at its core, the play explores issues surrounding identity, gender classifications, sexual attraction, love and the messiness of love triangles.
While the Pop-Up Globe followed the original storyline, its clever structure and engaging performance ensured the Perth audience was captivated for the full two-and-a-half hours. Johnny Light’s (Sir Aguecheek) and Peter Hambleton’s (Sir Toby Belch) performances were worth noting. Johnny and Peter, despite their drunk characters, did an incredible job at establishing a relationship with the audience by exemplifying the storyline and Shakespearean language through their actions and facial expressions. In saying this, the performances from the whole cast were worth celebrating. It is no easy task to perform to an audience of 900 using your own voice to project to the masses but the cast did it so joyously and theatrically that the audience reciprocated with the same upbeat and joyous demeanour.
The Pop-Up Globe Perth is about the experience rather than the performance, although this does help, and there seems to be no reason to not attend – it caters for all levels of Shakespearean knowledge. When entering the globe, you step back in time to the Jacobean period, yet, you can’t be fooled, this is Shakespeare reinvigorated and reimagined.
When: Saturday 5 October – Sunday 8 December 2019
Where: Crown Perth – Great Eastern Highway, Burswood WA 6100
Cost: from $29
More information: Perth Pop-Up Globe.
Feature Image: Perth Pop-Up Globe. Image supplied.