Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare: National Theatre at Home until 30th April 2020. 4****. Mark Courtice

Twelfth Night

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

Creative Team

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

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