by William Shakespeare.

Octagon Theatre Howell Croft South BL1 1SB To 22 March 2014.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm except 8 March 8pm, 10 March 5pm Mat 8, 15, 19 March 2pm & 11, 18 March 1.30pm.
Audio-described 21 March.
BSL Signed 13 March.
Post-show Discussion 10 March.
Investigate Day 15 March.
Runs 2hr 25min One interval.

TICKETS: 01204 520661.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 28 February.

Comedy where the shipwrecked bring becalmed existences ashore back to life.
Seeing William Shakespeare’s comedy laid-out as it is in David Thacker’s Octagon production emphasises what a strange society it shows. Staged in-the-round, all locations remain simultaneously in view. At the start, Viola and her twin brother Sebastian are seen rescued separately, but at the same time, from shipwreck.

Lovelorn Duke Orsino, reduced by budgetary considerations to providing his own meal-for-one musical food of love , sits or paces alone behind part of the audience.

The main space is – like much of the action – given over to Olivia’s house. She lies, dressed in black, with immaculate make-up, on a couch, listless and hardly aware of her revelling relation Sir Toby, wasting his life at the expense of weak-willed visitor Sir Andrew, forlornly longing for Olivia. The pity of Mawan Gyles’ Andrew is that, if he had the mind to realise it, he might be quite a dashing success.

They’re joined by Maxwell Hutcheon’s dilapidated professional entertainer, Feste. Alone in another corner, perpetually on duty at a desk serving as a butler’s pantry, is Christopher Villiers’ brisk, no-nonsense steward Malvolio.

Lighting his set, Ciaran Bagnall produces nocturnal atmospheres, pools of lighting as each part of the household attempts to rest or revel, before brightening the whole place into a single daytime household. The contrast between social and introspective hours defines the play’s exploration of desire and loss.

Feste’s career is evidently nearing its journey’s end. And this is the after-drag of Christmas festivities, the table round which the servants gather laden with the season’s leavings, while elsewhere elegant loneliness reigns. Only Rosie Jones’ Viola, disguised as a lad Cesario and the centre of new love confusions, bounds energetically between the static locations.

Elsewhere, with no garden evident; the faked love-letter’s left, credibly, on a table where Malvoliov reads it while those who’ve plotted his comeuppance hide behind table and chairs – in a neat touch, Jessica Barlow’s Maria mouths the words she’s written as Malvolio reads aloud.

Later, he bursts from his underground prison with a suddenness finely presaging his final threat – a discord picked-up by Feste’s playing and the suddenly stormy heavens.

Maria/Nun: Jessica Barlow.
Sir Toby Belch: Ian Blower.
Sebastian/Officer: Tristan Brooke.
Olivia: Natalie Grady.
Sir Andrew Aguecheek/Captain: Mawgan Gyles.
Feste: Maxwell Hutcheon.
Viola: Rosie Jones.
Antonio: Gary Lucas.
Orsino: Michael Shelford.
Malvolio: Christopher Villiers.

Director: David Thacker.
Designer/Lighting: Ciaran Bagnall.
Sound: Andy Smith.
Composer: Adrian Johnston.
Movement/Associate director: Lesley Hutchison.
Costume: mary Horan.
Fight director: Terry King.
Assistant director: Alex Howarth.

2014-03-03 10:03:32

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