Making Twelfth Night a delight: finding the fun in Shakespeare
Melville Theatre presents
Making Twelfth Night a delight: finding the fun in Shakespeare

21 Jun 2013 to 6 Jul 2013

LEAVE your assumptions at the door: Melville Theatre is bringing the curtain up on the fun to be found in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

Director Jeffrey Watkins said people either treated the play as a dark drama or dark comedy – but he had never seen it that way.

“Every time I read Twelfth Night, I always find it full of incredible humour, tensions, drama and fun,” the self-confessed lover of Shakespeare said.

“I have never found it dark and thought this would be an opportunity to investigate this approach of finding the fun in the play.”

Twelfth Night is about finding love and acceptance and follows Viola who, after surviving a disastrous sea voyage, has to assume the identity of a young boy to make her way in the world.

Her plans are complicated when she falls for new boss, Duke Orsino, who loves someone else – and that someone else then falls for Viola’s disguise.

When Viola’s lost brother arrives, he is mistaken for the boy Viola is impersonating and a series of mistaken identities then threatens to bring everything crumbling down.

Shakespearean plays are often defined as modern or traditional – but Watkins says his production has “a bit of both”.

“Based on texts of historical theatre, audiences typically wanted comedy, bawdiness, sexual innuendo, social ridicule and characters they could immediately relate to,” he said.

“In that sense, we are keeping it traditional by giving the play a joyful and high-energy feel.

“But the style of performance is not typically Shakespearean, which is often stylised with exaggerated movements and posing.

“We have applied modern-day acting concepts to create characters that will hopefully appeal to a modern audience.

“This includes character depth, emotional states and layers of personality that we hope will bring a feeling of reality to our cast.”

One of the main challenges with Twelfth Night – or any Shakespeare play – is understanding what is being said.

“Much of the context is gone from our times and there is so much translation into modern terms,” Watkins said.

“The trick is to make the play engaging while speaking the incredible words and poetry of the play.

“This needs to be done through tone of voice, the characters’ physical actions and method of delivery.

“If the audience can walk away having never seen the play before and say ‘I got that’ then our job is a success.”

Twelfth Night plays at 8pm, June 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, July 4, 5 and 6 with a 2pm matinee June 30. Tickets are $18, $14 concession – book on 9330 4565 or at

Melville Theatre is on the corner of Stock Road and Canning Highway, Palmyra.

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Session TimesTicket PricesDuration
150 minutes
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