Food of Love

Roma Street Parklands (Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble)


An ambient glow resonates from Roma Street Parklands this month from the angelic voices and music of the Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble, transporting us into an Elizabethan world of love, lust and desire.

Food of Love is the brain-child of QSE artistic director Rob Pensalfini and director Cienda McNamara, a vision of a Shakespearean cabaret that has come to life highlighting the music composed for QSE productions of the past six years.

Speak what we feel. not what we ought to say, said King Lear. Food of Love provides its audience a mystical and lucid journey, with the gentle weeping of violin played by Stephen Mackie and the communal folky songs of Pensalfini. A seemingly empty stage is often filled with joyous and connected voices praising the gods of love.

Shakespeare fans will be more than impressed with the range of prose selected by QSE to convey this beautiful dream. The production includes some of the moods and drama of Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice, Othello and As You Like It.

The directors have discovered a “Shakespearean heart of darkness” in Food of Love, a production with a stage full of aching hearts that carry a linking theme of loves tragedy by communal voices and song, transformed into a drama of desperation.

Hamlets “To be or not to be” speech as delivered by Pensalfini is a brilliant transitional device, shocking the audience into a new reality within the dreaming. From there the play spirals into a world of insecurity for Shakespeares characters, left to ponder whether it was better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Food of Love features QSEs talented actors and singers. The audience is transfixed by the duet of Pensalfini and Angel Kosch. Colin Smith provides some of the rare moments of comic relief as Pandarus, a cheeky match-maker bringing star-crossed lovers together.

As bats flap their wings over Wickham terrace the hypnotic sounds of Pensalfinis “gypsy” orchestra seduce the audience. A feeling of floating along with beautifully delivered prose dreams the audience to a theatrical place that I have never seen a Shakespearean production do before.

Food of Love is a new experience of Shakespeare, a transcendental tapestry of community and inter-connectedness through a rhythmic, physical and aural experience of William Shakespeares ever-questioning prose.

— Brett Barfoot
(Performance seen: Wed 6th May 2009)