Good time had with stock ingredients

What You Will is Twelfth Night's alternative title, so reusing the set and creating a spin-off aimed at the school holiday market is a clever idea.

Writer Zac Nicholls has adapted and embellished the sub-plot most likely to appeal to children and made its characters the stars of their own show.

Maria (Sam Shannon) and Feste (Nick Tipa) loathe having to do housework, and they especially hate being bossed around by Malvolio, their employer's mean, workaholic steward (Shaun Swain). So they mischievously hatch a plot designed to embarrass Malvolio mightily and, just maybe, bring him to his senses.

The production, directed by Jordan Dickson, has the stock ingredients of children's theatre - lots of bright colours, orchestrated yelling, silly antics and audience participation.

Shannon, Tipa and Swain give enthusiastic performances, with musical and a little bit of acting assistance from Nicholls.

The repurposed Twelfth Night set provides a ready-made backdrop that most children's productions could only dream of, and the sly insertion of Shakespearean quotes is a nice touch for accompanying parents.

Saturday afternoon's audience was clearly having a great time - and there was chocolate.

So the production has a lot going for it and the effort is commendable, but I found myself wishing for something less predictably conventional.

Most local productions for kids are pitched at similar levels of hilarity and incorporate similar techniques. Do they all have to look like formulaic pantomimes?

Couldn't they go beyond entertainment to extend children's horizons, fire their imaginations, transport, inspire, and maybe even take a few risks?

It is several years since I have seen anything of the sort (the Narnia plays at the Mayfair in 2007 and 2008 come to mind) and it would be great to see someone take up the challenge.

-By Barbara Frame

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