The Italian cast of ‘The Aspect’ and their teachers certainly achieved a cultural and comedic performance of ‘Twelfth Night’ that was full of energy and creativity. Beatrice Fiorani, an Italian drama teacher allowed her students to experience the true enjoyment of performing Shakespeare and through the adaptation of the script to a manageable length and making necessary translations, her students were able to pull off a remarkable feat which made for a very enjoyable afternoon escape from impending deadlines.
From the performances exposition, the energy and enthusiasm of the actors was unmistakeable. As Duke Orsino (Nigro Christian) made a spectacular entrance to an ingenious play on the famous ‘If music be the food of love, play on…’ with Ed Sheeran blasting throughout the St.Age, the humorous, jovial tone that would continue throughout the performance was set.
With such a complex plot involving deception, doubles and trickery I expected the execution of smooth transitions between scenes to have been difficult, but this Italian powerhouse of a cast was unbelievably swift with the pace of the performance helped to maintain the energy and overall engagement of the audience.
As I appreciated the humorous, well-delivered lines of Lady Olivia (Riboni Benedetta), a seemingly normal member of the audience bounded onto the stage and joined in the action, becoming The Fool (Ferchichi Alaa). This unexpected addition and action was very well received by her former seat-mates, as she danced and clowned around the stage.
I particularly enjoyed the careful ingenuity of the adaptions to the text to include contemporary elements, with one of my favourites being ‘I feel so sorry for you’ and the response of ‘Well, that is a step in the direction of love’. With modern music throughout and small references and innuendos, ‘The Aspect’ brought ‘Twelfth Night’ into the twenty-first century – a welcome surprise.
Overall, despite the difficulty facing the actors of performing in a language foreign to that of their native tongue, I thought they did an exceptional job and their bravery and energy on stage was very commendable. Hearing ‘Twelfth Night’ performed with Italian accents was fascinating and allowed comparison to other English productions I had seen. The enthusiastic gestures and tendencies that the Italians are renowned for served as a valuable asset to the actors and created a culturally stimulating and entertaining performance.
However, the most interesting or memorable thing I witnessed was not an ingenious translation or individual performance, but rather the collective and supportive nature of the group both on and off stage. During the panel discussion with Dr Pertile from the School of English and Dr Prest from School of Modern Languages, it was obvious to the audience how closely connected this group of young people really are. When a question was asked, a beautiful babble of Italian poured through the St.Age and I was left feeling – as cheesy as it sounds – warm and content. ‘I love them’ said Ferri Annapaola (who gave an excellent performance as Viola). This simple and sincere response brought a smile to my face because it reminded me of how amazing it is to perform and create something collectively.
I was originally hesitant to review this play, thinking that I would struggle to stay interested in the plot after seeing many productions and perhaps tiring of the tale: but I was mercifully wrong and instead was treated to an afternoon of friendship, culture and gratitude.
Congratulations to ‘The Aspect’ and Arrivederci!