Adelaide Fringe 2011
When “Click, go the shears” follows “A pub with no beer” it’s an undeniably local version of the bard underway in this almost Shakespeare: the sing-along Aussie Musical. After the protagonist twins in skinny jeans and tourist t-shirts are separated by a fittingly flooding Queensland creek Viola is told, “This is Orstrayla”, and it’s clearly not Illyria, lady but it is rollicking entertainment in the camp light circle.
At the helm of this postcolonial take is director Mark Holgate, playing Squatter Orsino in his RM Williams kit. This version’s conceit is to only replace the play’s four-hundred year old colloquialisms with Down Under slang. As usual the rest is the play’s: girl loves fellow, is dressed as a boy so other beloved is besotted with ‘him’ meanwhile the fellow wonders why he’s also feeling the heat…
Neophyte Benjii Riggs brings an innocent goobyness that redeems Sir Andrew Aguecheek’s character; his gormlessness more readily explained by lack of years than some inbred class system. Timothy Edhouse, particularly, as Sir Toby is a delight. Rather than sack, he longs for kegs of beer to be brought out, and Bronwyn Ruciak as shrew-voiced comely maid Maria, is only too happy to oblige – of course, Toby would follow her “to the back o’ Bourke”! A female Feste works fine, but pub-band musician doubling in the role, Caz Williams, needs to twang her vocal folds a little more, as demonstrates in her rousing role as Topaz.
Athena Tanti as Olivia warms to her role. Dark sunglasses replace the mourning veil though a mozzie net would have sufficed. When she and Viola (a gamin Emily Sullivan) as Cesario interact you can imagine a boot-scooting scene could ensue. Sullivan’s swaggering is pert and cheekily cute. Phil Cole as Malvolio in Steve Irwin khaki, brings a sympathy to a difficult role. His cross gartered glitter detail on rodeo chaps are a whimsical nod to a porn element that could one day be exploited. But it’s never fun when Maria and Sir Toby conspire to incarcerate him – so that instead of a dank basement, being cooped up. Finally, Catch Tilly’s “wild colonial boy, Antonio Kelly was his name” brings the play to its finale.
In a setting that doubles the Dead Drongo Pub with Olivia’s property, sitting out in the travelling players’ caravan encampment under the outdoor night sky of the Armoury Lawns is lovely – but remember to bring a lap rug however warm the day may have been.
Each character is more fun, more relevant in this bush-whacking take on tradition