Twelfth Night or What You Will

Declan Dowling
5th Mar 2023

Launching myself in full swing like some sort of “man-spider” between the fractilian spires which jut into the Annandale skyline and look down over the inner west, a pattern emerges from above. That of comedies and errors, that of ado caused over nothing. And on the twelfth night of my descented gaze over the ley-line linked pagentries of art and emotional skill, the conclusion which is spelt out for all to see is that when it comes to Shakespeare’s comedies, the Inner West does it best. As is very much exemplified by Fingerless Theatre’s newest venture with TWELFTH NIGHT, which has forced me at long last to open up the lockbox under my bed and dust off that elusive 5th star I keep in case of emergencies.

Flow Studios Camperdown plays host to the sandy shores of Illyria (a ‘made-y up-y’ vaguity of Greece/Croatia/Albania) as shipwrecked twins both laboring under the belief of the death of the other, run queer havoc with hearts and heads through a labyrinth of upsets, uppercuts and the upper class. Identity’s pretense is assumed and resolved, Sand is kicked, songs are sung, and in the end those who are ‘important’ are happy and Malvolia is half-drowned, half-mad and alone.

Director Alex Kendall Robson has facilitated and guided this evening of fun with a bold charisma and deft but driving intensity in calculated measures of rhythm, tension, timing and use of space. We are not invited into the world of the play (which would assume inaccessibility by the act thereof) but rather audience presence and attention is melded with the metal of reality brought by the company. A particularly textureful detail in this production is a literal island of sand in the center of the room which serves a main stage, through excitement and movement the sand is slowly cast about the room if not for Clay Lewis Crighton’s perpetual raking thereof, which put me much in mind of Sun Yuan and Peng Yu’s famed artwork “Can’t help myself”.

The evening is presented by a cast of 11 actor/musicians helmed by Zachary Aleksander, of whom my foolish wit would do no justice to this witty fool who is calculating, mad, inviting and terrifying with a delightful singing voice to boot. Jade Fuda’s Viola really makes you say “She’s the Man” as her earnest nature is beyond replication and oh so very warm to watch. Clay Lewis Crighton’s dueling airs of subservience and self assurance are a pleasing foil to the striking Rebecca Rolle, gentle Shingo Usami and positively falstaffian Alex Kendall Robson as Sir Toby. However the queen of highs and lows, imbuing the audience with both raucous crows of laughter and a revenge lust unseen since the death of Archduke Ferdinand was Meg Bennetts’ Marvolia.

Descending to earth again from the heady heights of heightened language and emptying my shoes of sand by the door, I find myself contemplating a return to Illyria. That is before sand and sea are swept away on the 11th and we are left to play on with the music of love ourselves… as we should be doing anyway.

Twelfth Night is playing as part of Sydney World Pride 1st - 11th March 2023.

Tickets are available at

Photos by Yang Wu