On January 30, as part of the 2013 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, UK playwright and performer Tim Crouch brings his latest production, I, Malvolio, to The Cultch. A celebrated international performer, Crouch has developed a large following here in Vancouver, thanks to past visits performing My Arm and An Oak Tree in 2007, and ENGLAND in 2009.
For I, Malvolio, Crouch uses humour as a means of exposing the harm caused in bullying and practical jokes in a re-imagined version of Shakespeare’s famous play Twelfth Night. In this version of the classic tale, the story is told through the eyes of the pompous steward Malvolio, a perspective rarely seen and explored in theatre.
In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Malvolio is bullied and picked on by the other characters, ultimately winding up as the crux of a hurtful joke. In the end, poor Malvolio meets a pitiful demise when he’s written off as insane, and locked away in a dark chamber. In his final words he pledges revenge on the other characters for treating him so poorly.
In this version of the play, Crouch’s clever script gives audiences a unique position from which to view the issue of bullying – from the eyes of the bully. As Crouch explains in the video below, “It’s a very funny piece. He is a clown and we often enjoy laughing at people who are going through terrible situations and circumstances. Malvolio is really at the bottom of the pile and he encourages you laughing at him, and then he challenges you for laughing at him.”
It’s a performance that makes you wonder: what’s acceptable about laughing at someone who’s been broken down and humiliated? As Crouch puts it in this interview with journalist Mark Fisher, “It [the play] is about how far one is prepared to take pleasure in somebody’s cruelty to other people.”
I, Malvolio is an entertaining production that reinforces valuable lessons along the way. Don’t miss your chance to see this contemporary spin on a classic play!
I, Malvolio runs at The Cultch January 30 – February 10, 2013. Tickets start at $17 and can be purchased at tickets.thecultch.com, by phone at 604.251.1363, or in person at The Cultch Box Office, 1895 Venables St.