Bell Shakespeare – Twelfth Night

Canberra Theatre Centre
13 – 21 October 2023

Director Heather Fairbairn places her characters in a garden setting that transforms throughout the play, linking their mortality to life cycles in nature and asking them, along with the audience, to find light in the darkness.

Barbie spoke to Jane Montgomery Griffiths, who plays Malvolia

Six new songs are sung live onstage by the cast, and the plot is carried along by Sarah Blasko’s melancholic score.

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the play’s publication in 1623 as part of Shakespeare’s First Folio, this new production of Twelfth Night offers a dark collision of hidden identities and unrequited love. 

The production defies standard gender casting approaches with the role of Viola played by Alfie Gledhill. 

The plot

Washed up in a strange new land, determined to survive, Viola disguises herself as a man named Cesario and finds work with Duke Orsino, only to fall head over heels in love with him. But Orsino is in love with Olivia, who – grieving for her brother – refuses all offers of romance. Until, that is, she meets Cesario for the first time. A whirlwind of passion ensues, leaving no one unaffected, not even Olivia’s prudish housekeeper Malvolia.

The Company

Bell Shakespeare is Australia’s national theatre company specialising in the works of William Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Founded in 1990 with the aim of sharing Shakespeare’s plays in a way that was relevant and exciting to all Australians, the company has evolved further than its visionary founder, John Bell AO, could have hoped.

Today, Bell Shakespeare tours major theatre productions, education programs and outreach initiatives to every state and territory in Australia. Performing and teaching in theatres, schools, juvenile justice centres and regional and remote communities, the company.

 Cast and crew

  • Jane Montgomery Griffiths as Malvolia
  • Keith Agius as Toby Belch
  • Isabel Burton as Sebastian /Viola
  • Alfie Gledhill as Viola
  • Amy Hack as Maria
  • Garth Holcombe as Orsino
  • Mike Howlett as Andrew/Captain
  • Tomáš Kantor as Feste
  • Chrissy Mae as Antonio
  • Ursula Mills as Olivia
  • Directed by Heather Fairbairn
  • Original music by Sarah Blasko.
  • Set and Costume Designer: Charles Davis
  • Lighting Designer: Verity Hampson