Review: The Lawyer Show 2013: 12th Night or What You Will (Nightwood)

lawyer show

Barristers get Bardy with this year’s Lawyer Show at the Berkeley Street Theatre in Toronto

The Lawyer Show is one of my favourite theatre events of the year. Staged annually at Berkeley Street Theatre and produced by Nightwood Theatre, the play features an all-lawyer cast who volunteer their time to rehearse for three months.

This year it was 12th Night Or What You Will. It is a comedy of conflicting desires, comic mix-ups and the usual dose of characters whose primary purpose is simply to create mischief. 

One of the most impressive things by far about the Lawyer Show year after year, is the mastery of the text. While in other Shakespeare productions it can feel like the actors are talking at each other, the actors in this show have a powerful grasp of the dialogue.

This comfort with the language brings the show to life and makes it easier to follow, particularly if you are not familiar with the story. The fact that they are not professional actors makes this all the more impressive.

The cast had great energy and seemed to really get into their roles. My show partner was particularly impressed with how the cast embraced their characters.

Audience favourites included the uptight, nerdy, yet oddly ambitious Malvolio (played by Danny Kastner), and Feste, the fool (played by Sabrina A. Bandali) who provided some of the funniest moments in the show, including a stint as an evangelical preacher.

The show was tightly choreographed, with music and dance peppered throughout the performance (the robot made an appearance). Even the non-dance scenes were enhanced by the way the characters moved.

The costumes were stunning; they were colourful, elaborate and a lot of fun. The set came to life with the use of a backdrop screen allowing them to transition flawlessly from one scene to the next with little need to move around props.

The humour in this play is subtle. This made it a harder comedy to stage, as it took a little while to get warmed up. At previous Lawyer Show Shakespeare productions I have heard the audience roaring with laughter, this performance drew quiet chuckles instead.

In addition to the show there was a silent auction, with three of the costumes among the items up for bidding. What one would do with a Shakespearean outfit, however beautiful the construction, I am not sure, but it did generate some excitement.

This is my third straight year reviewing the Lawyer Show and I can’t wait to go again next year. It’s a great afternoon or evening out and a really refreshing take on more classical interpretations of these plays. If you plan to go next year, get your tickets early because they sell out fast.

Details

  • The Lawyer Show played from June 6 to 8 at the Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street)
  • Shows ran Thursday to Saturday at 8pm, with an additional matinee on Sunday at 2pm
  • Tickets were $55, including a partial tax receipt
  • Tickets were available online, or through the box office at 416-944-1740 x5

Image of the company provided by Nightwood Theatre.

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