by William Shakespeare.
New Diorama 15-16 Triton Street Regents Place NW1 3BF In rep to 18 February 2012.
11am 18 Feb.
3pm 28 Jan, 4 Feb.
7.30pm 17, 18, 21 Jan, 1, 9, 10, 16 Feb.
Runs 2hr 25min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7383 9034
Review: Timothy Ramsden 14 January.
Factionalism is a brilliant new force in theatre.
New theatre companies come, high on manifestoes and physical invention, then go (it would be easy for anyone to get lost at the New Diorama, amidst the pavements and towers north of Euston Road). But it might be that in The Faction with these productions’ director Mark Leipacher this generation has its Cheek by Jowl, a company sustaining a fresh approach to classical drama. The Faction shares with CbyJ a bold, economic theatricality arising from the script, making familiar plays seem fresh.
Take Twelfth Night’s Act 2 scene 4 – the serious talk between shipwrecked young Viola, disguised as male courtier Cesario, serving the nobleman Orsino, with whom she’s in love. Often it’s little more than an infill before the fun and games with Malvolio and the fake love-letter.
It’s not only these scenes’ contrast between helpless love and selfish desire Leipacher points up. Orsino, hopelessly in love with Olivia, tells his seemingly male attendant that women cannot love as intensely as men; then Viola describes her own love, pretending she’s talking about her sister. Kate Sawyer’s face, trembling with the agony of suppressed love, her yearning voice, her body helplessly leaning towards Orsino, the right hand, instinctively, all-but stroking his face, provides a living image of love.
Or one type of love. Viola is facing away when the brother she thought drowned arrives. She hears him, senses a change in other people and looks round with unbelieving joy.
Love is serious stuff; its implication of loss is prepared from the start as the play opens in subdued tones with the song ‘Come Away, Death’ as Orsino’s court are bathing. Then a group scene has waves almost sucking Viola under before casting her ashore. Add Gareth Fordred’s obsessive Malvolio, his strapped-up leg a suggestion of love’s enemy war (along with military costume elements and Maria crossing herself when mentioning death), a splendidly comic Sir Andrew from Jonny McPherson, Derval Mellett’s gradual physical relaxation as Feste tries his jokes, the mutual mockery between him and Malvolio and, for all the verse strains some vocal performances, here is a distinctive Shakespearean revival.
Antonio: Andrew Chevalier.
Valentine: Cary Crankson.
Belch: Richard Delaney.
Malvolio: Gareth Fordred.
Maria: Leonie Hill.
Orsino: Shai Matheson.
Feste: Lachlan McCall.
Aguechek: Jonny McPherson.
Olivia: Derval Mellett.
Sebastian: Tom Radford.
Viola: Kate Sawyer.
Director: Mark Leipacher.
Lighting: Martin Dewar.
Associate director: Rachel Valentine Smith.
Associate composer: Tom Whitelaw.