Twelfth Night at Bard on the Beach

Kelsey Singbeil

CJSF volunter, Kelsey Singbeil, reviews the 2008 Bard on the Beach performance of Twelfth Night...

Sometimes when I go to Bard on the Beach I feel like I'm part of a commercial for summertime fun in Vancouver. The voiceover in my head invites me to, "come, have a picnic at Vanier Park, watch the sun go down, then come inside a big tent and enjoy some Shakespeare." Commercial or not, it's a fun way to spend a summer evening.

Twelfth Night graces the Mainstage of the 2008 Bard season. One of Shakespeare's classics, the tale revolves around mistaken identities. With the shipwrecked Olivia dressing as a man to protect herself, Shakespeare also weaves in theme of questioning the traditional roles for men and women.  

One of my favourite aspects of Bard is the wide array of settings in which it places Shakespeare’s medieval stories.  Twelfth Night once again proves the ease with which the traditional stories can be set in new and modern contexts and infused with new energy and life. Set in a 1930's Hollywood theme, director David MacKay pushes the production to play up the music and fashion of the era, and allows the characters to transcend the confines of time.

Melissa Poll, as the shipwrecked Olivia and embarks on a journey masquerading as a man, she encounters all sorts of clowns, love triangles and drama. The comic relief of Ryan Beil as Andrew Aguecheek and David Marr as Toby Belch play up the irony of the mistaken identities, and contrast well with the seeming sharpness of the desired Lois Anderson as Viola and her faithful maid, Tiffany Lyndall-Knight as Maria.

With so much coming and going on stage, and who's on first type of hilarity, productions of Twelfth Night can often seem chaotic and confusing. Yet MacKay walks the line in his Bard production. The energy of the characters helps build the story into a coherent and enjoyable frenzy. This year's Mainstage performance of Bard on the Beach was a commercial I was happy to be a part of.


  • Posted on: 18 March 2016
  • By: Administrator