To be fair, I was involved in the beginning processes of this play, and therefore have a soft spot for it. That being said, the show that I saw on the 14th of March was certainly well beyond what I had last seen. I was so impressed, so pleased and just overwhelmed with the beauty of this production. By the way, there will be spoilers, so read on if you dare!
First off, I’d like to talk about the setting of the play. Being set in the 1920’s the play had a very distinct flair, and yet I found that it was one that didn’t dampen the text at all, rather it enhanced the sense of excitement and carnival that is prevalent throughout Twelfth Night. Gordon McCall, the play’s director, made sure that every detail adhered to the theme, from the set and costumes, to the music, even the props all evoke the fabulous roaring 20’s. By further setting it in Windsor and Detroit, it gives the play a local flair that highlights the history of a city that has fallen on hard times and is hopefully on the way back to its former glory.
The set for the play itself was a wonder. It’s amazing to see something go from a picture and 3D computer model to real life in front of me. I won’t say too much about it, but let’s just say that at the performance I attended, there was a round of applause for the sheer beauty of the set. It encompassed so many of the architectural ideas of the period as well as the fabulous warmth of a beautiful bar.
The costumes were likewise awe inspiring. It’s hard to even pick out a favourite amongst the beautiful ensembles on display during this play. The glitz and glamour of the dresses paired with the pinstripe tailored suits and then the leather and wool was just a feast for the eyes. Even Malvolio’s cross gartered stockings were perfectly suited for the period, and everyone looked perfect from their hair to their shoes.
The actors themselves were wonderful. There are so many in this play, and it is such an ensemble piece that it seems impossible to pick out one actor over another. However, I have seldom been more impressed with a Shakespearean production at the University. They had such a handle on the text, and made it come from such an organic and real place that there wasn’t a single one of them that wasn’t believable. They made the text easy to understand and fun to watch, and truly embodied these funny wonderful people that not only Shakespeare created but then were transformed with the setting of the play. Their voices, physicality, the way they make the jokes undeniably funny, all make this production something so special and an absolute must see!
I have known most of these actors since their first year of University. I have had the pleasure of being a classmate of theirs, a cast mate to some, and a teacher to some as well, and I have to say I could not be more proud of them than I was with this production. I could see their futures paved out before them, bright and shining like they are. I only hope that I will be able to continue to watch them grow and prosper and be that friendly face in the audience for them.
There is only one weekend left to catch this amazing production at the Hatch Studio theatre in the Jackman Building. For tickets you can go to http://www.uwindsor.ca/universityplayers/ or call 519-253-3000 x2808.