by Lynn on February 2, 2017

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Monarch Tavern, 12 Clinton St., Toronto, Ont.

Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by James Wallis
Designed by Catherine Rainville
Choreography by Jade Douris
Original music by Franziska Beeler
Cast: Shawn Ahmed
Franziska Beeler
Augusto Bitter
Nat Bitton
Daniel Briere
Jade Douris
Jesse Griffiths
Jesse Nerenberg
Julia Nish-Lapidus
Lesley Robertson
Haillie Seline
Jeff Yung

Shakespeare BASH’d does their productions on a shoestring, but their work is smart, thoughtful and vibrant. That makes the results priceless.

In a few short years Shakespeare BASH’d has created a strong presence as a company devoted to doing Shakespeare. They have a company of actors dedicated to doing the plays of the Bard with commitment, inventiveness and tremendous energy.

Their latest production is Twelfth Night that plays this week until February 5 at the Monarch Tavern. The audience sits on both sides of the playing space. Since the production is at the Monarch Tavern, drinks are welcome to be enjoyed during the performance.

The play contains a rollercoaster of emotions. And of course the story is complicated. The Duke Orsino is in love with Olivia but she’s too busy mourning her dead brother to care. Into their lives comes Viola, shipwrecked and landed there by luck. She was travelling with her twin brother and believes he has drowned in the shipwreck. She disguises herself as a young man and begins working for Orisno. She develops feelings for Orsino and he becomes devoted to this ‘young man.’ The play goes from there. There is a subplot of irreverent servants and one arrogant man, Malvolio, serving Olivia.

Director James Wallis has directed a raucous, tight production that does not lose any of the moving, more thoughtful aspects of the play. He uses the whole space of the tavern and not just the space between both sides of the audience. At times it can look like one is watching a tense tennis match with characters on either end of the playing area, but Wallis is always mindful of the play and how to keep our focus where it counts.

The cast has an affinity for Shakespeare with some doing standout work. Daniel Briere is a fearless, bellowing Sir Toby Belch; Hallie Seline is a watchful Olivia who sees her reserve melt when she is smitten with Viola dressed as a young man; Julia Nish-Lapidus plays Maria with a glint and boldness; Lesley Robertson plays Feste with confidence and swagger and provides much of the singing. Special kudos go to Franziska Beeler for the musical compositions and her playing.

The run is already sold out for the week—they have a very loyal following that is growing with each production—but co-artistic director James Wallis says they will always try to accommodate anyone who shows up at the door.

Shakespeare BASH’d presents:

Opened: Jan. 31, 2017.
Closes: Feb. 5, 2017.
Cast: 12; 7 men, 5 women.
Running Time: 2 hours 30 minutes approx.

Leave a Comment