Twelfth Night review- humour and bleakness

By Loong Wai Ting

TWELFTH NIGHT –a play that includes a hint of modern touch, humour and bleakness coalesce in to one tradition which overall acquires that entertaining label hung across its sign. The refreshing plot is guaranteed to stay and say, for at least a period of time.

Directed by Christopher Ling, Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre’s (KLPAC) Director-in-Residence whose portfolio includes Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol and Desmond Sim’s The Swimming Instructor; Twelfth Night is about a shipwrecked victim named Viola, who is swept onto the shores of Illyria who fears that her twin brother is now dead. Disguising herself as a boy, she takes a post in the Duke’s court and charms Lady Olivia on behalf of him. Viola then finds herself in a fix between Lady Olivia and the Duke after Lady Olivia ends up falling for her when Viola was clear on her affection for the Duke.

Beginning from the opening scene (prologue), the audience were treated to a staccato but rather funny approach to how human beings deal with uncertain sudden losses. From the prologue, the play spins off with more characters – all taking up their own places, with each having their own stories to tell. There is an exultant yet melancholic drunkard and a lovely yet voluptuous figure that demand everything goes her way.

The entire cast is made up of young people. These young stage actors, when given the scripts to memorise are equipped with the ability and creativity of a veteran stage performer as they come up with their style of performance. It’s a well-cast play, I must say. From afar, it looks like a tiny kingdom with a perfect ensembles of little professional, taking the centre stage as their playground. And from there, they naturally allow everything to fall into place – it’s good if it’s not great.

The plot is brilliantly written, with unexpected twists in the end.

Although the play began on a shaky ground, the story picks up rather interestingly 30 minutes after the first scene cuts through. The plot then becomes intense and the excitement increases as secrets are finally revealed as the characters mouth out their profanity and hopes for each other.

The climax on the other hand comes off as “too sudden” and “too quick” – after a mere first one and a half hour of the scene, presumably not enough for these characters to develop their plot and characters. Blink and you’ll miss important significance happening on the stage.

The set, on the other hand is effortless.

This play depends a lot on the sound effects, the quality of their sound-system and also their different lighting methods to set the mood of the whole play. Without which, the play could have come off easily as either too bland or boring.

Twelfth Night emphasised a lot on catchy themes such as the captivating musical score, tunes and the spontaneous taunt of Justin Bieber’s popular song, Baby; and a little hint of the 2006 movie adaptation, ‘She’s The Man’, starring Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum.

The language itself was a blend of both the modern slang and the infamous classic Shakespearean English thrown in. It’s pretty hard to grasp the meaning in the beginning, but given time it’s easy to distinguish whatever the characters were trying to say.

Overall, it was a good performance from the young and talented ensembles. It embodied the perfect pitch that examined the human nature when it came to understanding what love is and how one loss could lead to numerous outcomes. Generally, Twelfth Night is a good play that will get your every cent worth its value.

Kudos to the team for making it one of the best plays yet!

klpac presents William Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ from 16 to 19 September 2010. Tickets are priced at RM33 and RM23 for students and the disabled. Call 03-4047 9000 or walk in to klpac, The Actors Studio @ Lot 10, Axcess Headquarters (Jln. Semangat) or Axcess 1-Utama outlet to purchase tickets. For more information, visit