by William Shakespeare.
A National Theatre production.
Viewing platform: National Theatre YouTube channel
23rd April to 30th April 2020
Running time: 2 hours 42 minutes, with a very short interval. Review Mark Courtice 23rd April
BBFC rating: PG for cinema.
Rufus Norris, the National Theatre’s Artistic Director, is urgently warning about the danger facing our theatres from the current lockdown. His organisation is more likely to survive than most; our local theatres aren’t so secure. Simon Godwin’s classy, classic Twelfth Night, the fourth in the National Theatre at Home season, reminds us why this matters. It’s funny, moving, and very well acted. Transferred to the screen, this is definitely worth staying in for.
This tale of unlikely swapped identities, unsuitable passion and unlikeable hangers on at court is given fresh impetus by some brilliant casting; most obviously that of Tasmin Greig as Malvolia, but there is an absolutely superb Viola from Tamara Lawrance. Intelligent, sweet and steely, she doesn’t put a foot wrong. Phoebe Fox’s Olivia is so much more than the usual wet blanket – her performance makes you view the character afresh. So too with Tim McMullan’s Toby Belch who is raffish and sneaky not just a roistering bully.
Threaded through by Michael Bruce’s charming score, the production values are high; the set glitters, revolves and neatly opens up for each new location. The lighting glistens on surfaces, reveals warm corners and working with a just a stool creates a hellish prison for Malvolia. Greig’s Malvolia is another revelation –a ramrod stiff disciplinarian not because she’s just a pompous ass, but because she wants things to be better, she is however not clever enough to know what’s really valuable. It’s a subtle performance that is also terribly funny.
Sometimes seeing plays at home feels like you’re losing something, but here compared to the performance in the theatre both Greig and Doon Mackichan as Feste seem to work better in the close up of home. Mackichan especially seemed underpowered in the theatre but here is a spiky witty delight.
Viola Tamara Lawrance
Sebastian Daniel Ezra
Orsino Oliver Chris
Curio Emmanuel Kojo
Valentine Brad Morrison
Captain and Priest James Wallace
Sir Toby Belch Tim McMullan
Maria Nicky Wardley
Sir Andrew Aguecheek Daniel Rigby
Antonio Adam Best
Feste Doon Mackichan
Olivia Phoebe Fox
Malvolia Tasmin Greig
Fabia Imogen Doel
Servant Whitney Kehinde
Officer Ammar Duffus
Ensemble Claire Cordier, Mary Doherty, Andrew Macbean, Imogen Slaughter.
All other characters are played by the members of the company
Music Director, Piano and Accordion Dan Jackson
Guitars Jon Gingell
Kit/Percussion Martin Briggs
Bass Nicola Davenport
Woodwind Hannah Lawrence
Director Simon Godwin
Designer Soutra Gilmour
Lighting Designer James Farncombe
Movement Director Shelley Maxwell
Music Michael Bruce
Sound Designer Christopher Shutt
Company Voice Work Jeannette Nelson
Fight Director Kev McCurdy
Staff Director Alice Knight
Screen Director Robin Lough
Technical Producer Christopher C Bretnall
Lighting Director Mike Le Ferve
Sound Supervisor Conrad Fletcher