TWELFTH NIGHT by William Shakespeare. Birmingham Rep

Birmingham

Twelfth Night: William Shakespeare
Birmingham Repertory
Reviewed: Rod Dungate 14th September 2000

For these young people to fall in and out of love is the most natural thing in the world
Charming, moving, witty and above all terribly human. Bill Alexander’s production of Twelfth Night is a refreshing and detailed look at the play and is entirely at one with a multi-cultural 21st Century.

By casting young actors the age-old question about whether the main characters (and particularly the Count Orsino) are really in love or merely playing at if for effect, disappears. For these young people to fall in and out of love is the most natural thing in the world, and they do it with a truth and passion that rings tears to your eyes.

Everything about the evening is fresh and clean including Ruari Murchison’s uncluttered designs – simple white drapes and walls that fly quickly in an out. In an inspired choice the box tree in which conspirators Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Fabian hide is represented by a tall, dark-wood step ladder. The vaguely thirties style costumes help too.

Pal Aron’s Orsino is much to be admired: he combines aristocratic authority with youthful naivete. Rakie Ayola’s Viola has an innocence that makes her irresistible (as much to us as to Orsino and Olivia): when in her boy’s disguise, she even looks like a boy.

Andy Hockley presents a Sir Toby who is obviously out of the drop drawer while being a drunken oaf as well. Gerrard Murphy’s Malvolio clearly stems from Northern Ireland: and is particularly funny before he reinvents himself, his fussy, prissy manners
go down a treat. Finally, particularly to be noted, are David Hargreaves’s haunting Feste and Anna Nicholas’s Maria. Hargreaves is a tall man, he dwarfs the other actors and he looks for all the world like an unkempt vagrant: he is very much the outsider. Nicholas creates a capable Maria anyone and everyone would trust and is beautiful into
the bargain.

2001-09-08 19:55:37

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