Steampunk Canada

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Stratford Festival Twelfth Night Review

Posted by Lee A. Farruga on July 17, 2011 at 9:04 AM

I have always been a huge fan of Shakespeare and his work. Ever since high school - no, really. While others floundered at his words and meaning, I found his stories wonderful, his imagination limitless and his characters endearing.

My absolute favourites have always been his comedies. Always a little mystery, a little drama, and always a lot of fun. Twelfth Night is no exception.


What I love about steampunk is very similar. The stories are wonderful, the imagination of those who create is limitless and the aesthetic is both lovely and stunning.


When I first saw the poster for theStratford Festival's production of Twelfth Night I was thrilled to see all the steampunk accoutrements that generally advertise the steampunk look – the goggles, the tiny top hats, the short Victorian style skirts, high punk boots and so on. This, of course,gave me the impression that the production would be a full on steampunk feast for the eyes. When I was offered the opportunity to attend opening night to do this review I jumped at the chance to see how Stratford would interpret steampunk on stage.


To begin with, the play itself was wonderful. The actors did a fine job of bringing Shakespeare's work to life. My absolute favourite was Steven Ouimette as Sir Andrew Aguecheek. His timing was impeccable and he was bumbling and loveable beyond measure. The fantastic music added a new dimension to Twelfth Night. It encompassed the most prominent steampunk feature of the show, the mix of old and new.


Unlike other recent steampunk versions of Twelfth Night, you won't find flashy goggles, airships and rayguns in this production. What you will find is a delicate interpretation of steampunk blended into various aspects of the show.

The costuming was superb, from glorious and voluminous Victorian style gowns, mourning attire and nightgowns to Edwardian summer and golfing outfits for the men, modern steampunk pieces like high buckled boots and crazy pants, velvet jackets and waistcoats – Sir Anthony's purple one was a hit. During a rainy scene there was no shortage of suits, bowlers and top hats. There were also more modern pieces like the Men in Black style suits of Olivia's guards and Antonio's outfit, a wonderful combination of sailor stripes and high buckled punk boots. When we first see him he has a sleek backpack with old style umbrella set through the straps –a small homage to the mix of old and new. Lastly, another hit, and the polar opposite of Sir Anthony's attire was Fabian's dandy look of tailored suit and bow tie – very sharp.

Another glorious piece of work was the stage itself. The back wall was a giant broken Victorian style mirror - gorgeous wooden frame with flowers, broken edges and shards of antique glass. The look was sumptuous. It's middle was a gaping black hole from which various elements of the play came out including a small boat, a golf cart and a bar! Later in the show gates were revealed, beautifully made to look like intricate wrought iron.

For the tinkers reading this there was one set piece that would have made you weep with joy. A most outrageously steampunk chandelier with glowing globe at its centre and giant metal arms reaching out ending in flickering candle and incandescent lights.


Stratford's production of Twelfth Night is a glorious mix of old and new and fantastic. From the look to the music to the acting – it is a feast for the eyes and the cranium. Well worth seeing.


Now when does the soundtrack come out?!

For more information and to purchase tickets go to their website.


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