by William Shakespeare.
Nottingham Playhouse Wellington Circus NG1 5AF To 16 October 2010.
Tue-Sat 7.45pm Mat 7, 14 Oct 1.30pm 9 Oct2.30pm.
Post show talk Tuesday 5th October
Audio-described 9 Oct 2.30, 13 Oct.
BSL Signed 15 October.
Post-show talk 5 Oct.
Runs 2hr 20min One interval.
TICKETS: 0115 9419419.
Review: Jen Mitchell 29 September.
An injection of Brazilian flavour gives one of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies a new lease of life.
There could be worse places to be washed up than the shores of Illyria – in this production, somewhere in Brazil. Twins Viola and Sebastian are shipwrecked here. Each remains unaware of the other’s survival, setting the scene for comedy and confusion.
Placing the piece in Brazil doesn’t give a revolutionary new slant on the original, but it works beautifully. The old colonial grandeur of Olivia’s residence provides a backdrop; a hammock swings lazily, slung between palm trees; weeds grow between the paving stones, and the sun shines (apart from the storm which takes place as the audience are entering the auditorium).
The imposing figure of Orsino (Steve Toussaint) lounging languidly in his hammock as he delivers “If music be the food of love” sets the generally laid-back tone for the rest of the production. Olivia’s continual rebuttal of his advances is met with a simmering tension and undertone of impatience rather than all-out despair or anger.
Olivia matches his laid-back manner with her attitude towards Orsino. As she sashays about the stage she has none of the shrill, harshness seen in some interpretations, but a smooth confidence that can only be borne out of position and wealth. In her eventual wooing of Cesario/Sebastian, she uses her strength, superiority and experience to ensure she gets her man and the young Sebastian appears putty in her hands. In a superb piece of acting, Sebastian (Curtis Jay Cole) moves from utter confusion, through acceptance to sheer delight in a matter of seconds.
Rebecca Herod offers a quietly confident, and pretty, chilled Viola. After her initial panic at finding herself shipwrecked, she quickly finds her feet as Orsino’s right-hand man.
The character who gets most hot under the collar is the self-righteous, pursed-lippped Malvolio (Marcus Powell).It’s easy to imagine why Sir Toby Belch and his co-conspirators would play such a cruel trick on him as to have him imagine that Olivia loves him, although later on one feels an uncomfortable collaborator as his humiliation is made public.
The cast are all strong, the direction tight and the Brazilian tones add grace and style.
Sebastian: Curtis Jay Cole.
Valentine/Priest: Michael Ellis.
Fabian/Captain: Ashley J.
Sir Andrew Aguecheek: Nicholai La Barrie.
Viola: Rebecca Herod.
Feste: Anthony Ofoegbu.
Malvolio: Marcus Powell.
Olivia: Tracey Saunders.
Antonio/Curio: Seun Shote.
Orsino/Officer: Steve Toussaint.
Maria: Velile Tshabalala.
Sir Toby Belch: David Webber.
Director: Paulette Randall.
Designer: Libby Watson.
Lighting: Kevin Treacy.
Sound: Drew Baumohl.
Musical Director: Delroy Murray.
Choreographer: Jackie Guy.
Capoeira Choreographer: Seun Shote.