The Bard wrote Twelfth Night in 1601, but Shakespeare Kelowna’s version is set in the roaring jazz era of the 1920s.
This version is perfect, given the play’s obsession with music, love and excess, which is what the 1920s are best known for.
Music is performed by a five-piece band directed by Mike Minions with timeless classics — such as Ain’t Misbehaving, Bye Bye Blackbird, Dream A Little Dream, to name a few — sung by Norene Morrow.
I belly laughed from the enjoyment of music, poetry, wordplay and the art of physical comedy, which are themes throughout, as well as the consuming nature of drunk foolery, smart strong women and romantic passion.
Shakespeare’s comedy centres on the twins Viola and Sebastian, who are separated in a shipwreck off the coast of Illyria. Each believes the other is dead.
Viola (Anita Reimer) disguises herself as a boy named Cesario and enters the service of Duke Orsino (Aloshya Pushak), who thinks he is in love with the lady Olivia (Dorothy Dalba).
Orsino sends Viola-Cesario to plead his cause to Olivia, who promptly falls in love with the messenger.
Viola, meanwhile, is in love with Orsino, and, when her twin, Sebastian (Torsten Nogel), is rediscovered, many comic situations of mistaken identity ensue.
There is a satiric subplot involving the members of Lady Olivia’s household —Feste the jester (Michael Kalmuk), Maria (Sarah Foss), Olivia’s uncle Sir Toby Belch (Cameron Gordon), and Sir Toby’s friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Don Plant).
They scheme to undermine the high-minded, pompous Malvolio (Janet Anderson) by planting a love letter allegedly written by Olivia to Malvolio urging her to show affection through her smile and dressing herself in cross-garters and yellow.
The trio of men were the physical comedic stars of this play.
Plant is Sir Aguecheek, a wealthy sideman, drunk and fool for love. Plant executed his character brilliantly.
Feste the jester played by Micheal Kalmuk gave us a Liberace version of happy, campy that fed the audience cheeky songs, laughs, smiles and prompted us to cheer for more please.
Gordon, who plays Sir Toby Blech, was the highlight for me, dominated every scene he was in with his talent for physical comedy.
Gordon also made sure that his elocution for this language was clear and precise enough to register the innuendo or the blatant dirty jokes in this comedy but still remain sounding as drunk as a skunk at all times.
The women on the other hand were the stars of the play. All the female characters were smart in the way they were written, and in a time when women did not have their say.
These women were as true to themselves, unafraid to open their hearts, unafraid to lead, unafraid to question, far more insightful than the men (and) always right in the end.
Dalba plays Lady Olivia with a wise maturity and even though she mistakes a woman for man, she still boldly makes a stand for love.
Janet Anderson, playing the sturdy dyke Malvolio, is at first sullen and demands no nonsense until she is pranked into thinking that her lady might have feeling of love for her, then this women boldly takes a chance to prove it could be so. Although her attempts failed, she still tried and her determination was such fun to watch.
Then, there is Maria, the mastermind behind the prank on Malvolio. Foss turns this housemaid into a woman that makes a lord want to marrying beneath him because she is so smart with her cunning plans.
And Viola (Anita Reimer) who knows she needs to work to make some sort of living, so she does what she has to and becomes a man.
Kudos to Stephen Jefferys as director for this play. It’s hard work to give an audience the tools to understand and relate a 16th-century play, while creating a modern appeal. I loved it
There are only four more chances to see this play and if you remember what I said about instincts and intuition you will understand that I know you will get your money’s worth and more by seeing this show.
Tickets are through for $30 plus fees. Spearhead Winery is located in East Kelowna 3950 Spiers Rd. Curtains at 7 p.m.
It tends to get cold after the first act, so bring warm clothes or a blanket.