Arts Review: A musical love triangle plays out by the river

By Tyler Marr
July 26, 2017 - 12:00am

The cast members of Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan are given an opportunity to shine in the romantic comedy Twelfth Night part of this year's production.

Directed by Will Brooks, the play is laced with twangy bluegrass music, multifarious comedy and tricky twist and turns.

Much of Twelfth Night is played out in laughs. It centres around characters in a love triangle who do not know they engulfed in it. Adding to this is miscommunication and trickery, intriguing subplots, drunken buffoons and razor-sharp wit, as Shakespeare would have it.

With elaborate staging, props and costumes, the almost steam punk influenced attire offers a balanced sense of a classic feel while conveying the modern take. The show wastes no time teasing audiences with what is to come and has a fast paced appeal. 

One is quickly drawn in by the harmonic opening scene, where casts members parade a hinting song before launching into the opening scene. The premise is simple by is rendered complex fast. Orsino is in love with Olivia, but Olivia falls for Cesario, who is actually a Viola in disguise, who works for Orsino, whom Viola loves.

A bit obtuse, perhaps? But nonetheless, the seasoned, returning and first time performers alike play off each others energy and wholly embrace their roles throughout which adds to the enjoyment.

Those such as Greg Ochitwa, playing Orsino, Caitlin Vancoughnett, Oliva, and Jamie Lee Shbelski as Viola satisfy their roles and ease the play along. Veterans like Kent Allen, who plays the drunken meddler Sir Toby, and Lisa Bayliss as Maria, are highlights throughout.

The laugh factor is ramped up with trickers Kate Herriot, Feste, and Rob van Meenen, playing Aguecheek — who steals the spotlight almost every time on stage — wholly execute the juvenile wit, quips and trickery required for these roles. Their audience interaction and aloof tactics keep onlookers enticed.

But the pinnacle of gut wrenching comedy comes every time Joshua Beaudry steps on stage as Malvolio, Oliva’s goon of a guard. He holds a baritone voice and demeanour that only occasionally is broken. But after fooled into believing Olivia is in love with him, unravels and provides some of the crowning comedic moments.

Aside from this, the established conflict between Viola and Aguecheek that results in an all out brawl, with boxing gloves, mouth guards and a ring bell provides one more layer of unblemished humour.

Twelfth Night is a perfect choice for Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan's goal and something worth taking a look at. It can be easily enjoyed by young and old and will offer a swell experience for people well versed in Old English fun or those wanting to test the waters of Shakespearean theatre.

One can take in Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan easier than ever through their partnership with Prairie Lily Riverboat Tours. When you book a tour with Prairie Lily and a Shakespeare main stage play on the same day at you save a total of $10.

The grounds have also undergone some upgrades, with the movement of the main stage further north on the site, it is home to greater tree coverage and a bit farther away from the roadways, which creates a more intimate quieter experience along river bank.

New this year is Happy Hour at Sir Toby's Tavern. Running Tuesday through to Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m., a food truck will be there, offering the opportunity to enjoy a hot meal, a beer or glass of wine to enjoy at the only riverside patio in Saskatoon.

Productions run until August 20. Tickets can be bought from Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan’s box office to experience riveting and inventive theatre on the shores of the South Saskatchewan. Don’t forget to check them out on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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