While our residents study and live at La Trobe, we want their time to be full of opportunities. Eva is a keen blogger from the Netherlands who is living at La Trobe and has her own Dutch blog, so we thought it would be a great opportunity for her to write for the Residential Living at La Trobe blog, and we are so glad she did, because Eva did an excellent job. 

The Twelfth Night – Shakespeare Under the Stars

Last Friday night, the Australian Shakespeare Company performed their “hilarious and entertaining” (quote the Herald Sunday, but I couldn’t agree more) take on Shakespeare’s romantic comedy Twelfth Night. As a fan of theatre, I was interested in going from the moment I heard about it, so I tried to get some friends of mine who also live in Chisholm College to get along. Accommodation Services helped make my argument more convincing by providing our tickets, so a bit before 8pm we entered the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne and journeyed into the mythical Illyria, where the story takes place.

We were quickly charmed by the various characters, starting with the ever-drunk Sir Toby (“Going to bed before midnight is early, so going to bed after midnight is right on time.”: Can’t we all relate to that?). His silly friend Sir Andrew was an absolute favourite of the audience as well, and together with the household staff of lady Olivia, they made the comedy as vibrant as can be. Of course they needed a victim for the pranks they pulled and who better than the ever serious Malvolio. Secretly in love with Olivia, he was made a complete fool of.

The fool in the play was actually fooling the most, for he had his wits with him and mastered the art of wordplay well enough to liven up the story with songs throughout the play. The music really added an extra dimension and was always supporting the story, without taking away from the play.

A personal favourite of mine was the actress who played Viola/Cesario, as her expressions really brought to life the awkward love triangle (s)he was in with the lady Olivia and his/her employer Duke Orsino. As in many a good romantic comedy, there was confusion throughout for the main characters, with the highlight of the identity-confusion being Olivia marrying Viola’s twin brother Sebastian instead of the Viola/Cesario she fell in love with.

The actors made excellent use of puns, music, dance and sudden small hints to modern times, to take the comedy to the next level and make the audience laugh so much, that even before the second act, I already overhead someone saying their cheeks hurt from laughing. The audience itself was required to take a small part in the play as well. It fit very well with the outdoor setting in the gardens, where the actors could easily walk around through the audience and take several people up on stage to join in one of Sir Toby’s parties. We were even asked to sing along with a song by the fool.

This might not have worked at all in a more formal theatre setting, but I appreciate the way the Australian Shakespeare Company made use of the venue and incorporated all this in the play. It was unmistakably a Shakespeare play and the old English was a sure way to keep the feeling of a classic, but it was also definitely a new and original version Twelfth Night. The three of us loved it, and from what I could see, so did the rest of the people present. Therefore I’ll end with the most famous quote of the play, with which I agree wholeheartedly:


“If music be the food of love, play on!”

By Eva de Feber – Chisholm College