There was an unusual stillness in the gardens of the Goulburn Club on Wednesday night.
The freckled sky and crisp Autumn wind, the familiar beam from Rocky Hill, even the occasional chug of cars on Auburn Street was not registered by the packed audience, who, over the course of three hours, was transported into William Shakespeare’s most popular narrative, Twelfth Night.
Like most of Shakespeare’s stories, Twelfth Night is far from simple or straightforward.
It follows the separation of twins at sea, Viola (Anne Watterston) and her brother Sebastian (Harrison Treble) who falsely believe the other is dead. In their grief, the two wash up on the shores of Illyria, known today as Slovenia, Croatia and Albania.
Viola, decides to dress up as a man and works with the Duke of Illyria, Orsino (Ryan Paranthoiene) who is in love with the countess Olivia (Erin Williams).
As she becomes the messenger of unrequited affection, contagious comedic challenges unfolds between Olivia’s gentlewoman, Maria (Anthea Foley), Sir Toby Belch (Steven Whalley-Routley) Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Linden Fennamore) and the despised steward Malvolio (Roger Feltham).
Manipulation and tricks are thrown between the characters of this group, offering a lighthearted addition to the overall and confusing web of love.
Director Chrisjohn Hancock took a chance, seating the audience under the covers of the outside gardens for the majority of the performance. But it was a chance well taken, as the characters were seen lining the walls, walking in between wedges and dancing around in a freedom that could not be found in a room.
Attention to detail could also be seen throughout the show. From the traditional garments, the compilation of melodies and the effortless transition of scenes and prop placement.
Hancock reminded us that the origins of theatre was conceived and most enjoyed in an outdoor and interactive landscape, a reality well received on the night.
Out of all the characters who performed that night, it was Feste the clown played by Blake Selmes who truly epitomised the relevancy of Shakespeare today.
Acting as a narrator, joker and active character, Selmes weaved through the multiple story lines with ease and equal purpose, voicing most clearly the refined genius in Shakespeare’s sometimes misunderstood verse.
At first glance it might seem like a local theatre’s rendition of a classic play, but on closer review, the Lieder’s recreation of Twelfth Night does more than echo Shakespearean phrase in a garden, it reignites the very importance and community of theatre itself.
Tickets to the show can be purchased at the door or through the Lieder’s website.