by William Shakespeare.

Cottesloe Theatre Upper Ground South Bank SE1 9PX To 2 March 2011.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat 2pm 1, 5, 10, 12, 17, 19, 24, 26 Feb, 1, 2 March.
all performances sold out.
Runs: 2hr 50min One interval.

TICKETS 020 7452 3000.
Review: Carole Woddis 30 January.

Familiar play with an unusual twist.

Peter Hall writes a fantastic programme note. His foreword to the Folio Society’s 1960 edition of Twelfth Night, never was the play better analysed or dissected than Hall’s account.

A pleasure to read, Hall in full academic flow is exhilarating. The same cannot perhaps be said entirely for this production, a hallmark (if you’ll forgive the pun) of nearly 60 years devoted to staging Shakespeare, and a tribute from the National to Hall for his contribution to British theatre.

Hall, as he amusingly points out, once regarded as a radical, is now known as a traditionalist in the playing of Shakespeare. His production fits that description having none of the modish dizziness of Filter’s ebullient Twelfth Night three years ago or Michael Boyd’s fiercely melancholic, Caledonian flecked RSC version in 2005.

Hall’s pace is more a slowm steady trot. Or stillness. David Ryall’s Feste, Tony Haygarth’s Sea Caption and even Jeffry Wickham’s priest stress the ageing strain in a play wreathed in regret as it is also giddy with misunderstanding, mistaken identity, revenge and riotous living.

Hall’s daughter Rebecca – an international star in her own firmament these days – resplendent in satin doublet and breeches, is a strangely subdued Viola, touchingly sincere and bemused by her confusing situation, but somehow ungendered.

Indeed, if there is an unexpected twist to Hall’s production it is that in this most teasing of plays about ambivalence and sexual identity, Hall has taken sex out of the equation replacing it with something more transcendent and abstract. Love itself. And self-delusion.

As you’d expect, the musical interludes are delightful – authentic and for the most part wistful.

To counteract the `dying fall’ that pervades the production, Simon Callow is in typically robust and rumbuctious form as a riotous and malicious Sir Toby Belch, aided and abetted by Finty Williams’ giggling Maria and Charles Edwards’ cowardly but not wholly absurd Aguecheek.

If the comedy and energy seems muted – the Malvolio letter and box tree scene excepting – what remains in the memory is a tender lyricism mitigated by Malvolio’s serious threat of revenge. And indeed. The Puritans did have the last laugh. For a while.

Orsino: Marton Csokas.
Curio: Joseph Timms.
Valentine: Richard Keightley.
Viola: Rebecca Hall.
Sea Captain: Tony Haygarth.
Sir Toby Belch: Simon Callow.
Maria: Finty Williams.
Sir Andrew Aguecheek: Charles Edwards.
Feste: David Ryall.
Olivia: Amanda Drew.
Attendant to Olivia: Elizabeth Muncey.
Malvolio: Simon Paisley Day.
Antonio: James Clyde.
Sebastian: Ben Mansfield.
Fabian: Samuel James.
First Officer: Cornelius Booth.
Priest: Jeffry Wickham.

Nick Cooper (cello); George Hadjineophytou (mandola);
Clare Salaman (nykelharpa); Mick Sands (flutes).

Director: Peter Hall.
Designer: Anthony Ward.
Lighting: Peter Mumford.
Sound: Gregory Clarke.
Music: Mick Sands.
Company Voice work: Kate Godfrey.
Fight director: Kate Waters.
Associate director: Richard Twyman.

This production of twelfth Night opened in the Cottesloe on 18 January 2011.

2011-01-22 10:35:55

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