TWELFTH NIGHT: William Shakespeare.
RSC Courtyard – Stratford Upon Avon then Duke of York’s Theatre London.
Runs: 3h, One interval, till 27 February 2010.
Review: Rod Dungate, 22 October 2009.
Something surprising and special in Illyria.
In this Gregory Doran production, Illyria is a kind of Byronesque Greece. This decision enables the team to build a beautifully atmospheric, gentle and touching production. The play world is not filled with really extreme people but with real people who live their lives in extreme ways.
We are used to seeing Sir Toby drink to excess, and, in a way, to Olivia portraying an excessive mourning and Orsino an excessive loving. In this production’s world we see openly on display, Feste’s excessive hatred for Malvolio, the household characters’ excessively cruel joke against Malvolio and even Antonio’s excessive love for Sebastian.
Creating outwards from his clever conceit, Gregory Doran neatly (and effectively) solves many of the play’s intriguing problems.
A vital element within this structure is Richard Wilson’s rather gentle – or gentlemanly – Malvolio. We see and feel what a kill-joy Puritan Malvolio is, but we like him too; in a way, he carries his belief to excess too. Malvolio’s not through and through malicious; though in his final, chilling exit, he shows that he has been made really malicious by the cruel actions of others. Richard Wilson pulls off a remarkable coup in this performance – there is something deeply different about his characterisation.
Orsino is unusually likeable in Jo Stone-Fewings’ performance and Alexandra Gilbreath shows a delightful humour and love of life as Olivia. Nancy Carroll’s Viola is charmingly unfussy – a perfect contrast to those around her. This is a strong company; Miltos Yerolemou’s Feste is beautifully conceived. He’s funny, loveable but you sense he’s dangerous too. And Pamela Nomvete’s Maria is warm and vigourous – and it’s hard to take your eyes off her.
Robert Jones’s single set is a delight; it changes from inside to outside in an instant – mostly at the behest of Tim Mitchell’s sensitive, sculptural lighting. Doran directs with intelligence, thought, detail and huge imagination. And another thing; you sense he knows how to work with actors – this production feels as if it’s nurtured from within.
Orsino: Jo Stone-Fewings
Curio: Ashley Taylor-Rhys.
Valentine: Laurence Dobiesz
Olivia: Alexandra Gilbreath.
Sir Toby Belch: Richard McCabe.
Sir Andrew Aguecheek: James Fleet.
Malvolio: Richard Wilson.
Maria: Pamela Nomvete.
Feste: Miltos Yerolemou.
Fabian: Tony Jaywardena.
Attendant Ladies: Demi Oyediran, Maya Wasowicz.
Viola: Nancy Carroll.
Sebastian: Sam Alexander.
Antonio: Simeon Moore.
Sea Captain: Alan Francis.
Priest: Prasanna Puwanarajah.
Officer: Ian Abeysekera.
Directed by: Gregory Doran.
Designed by: Robert Jones.
Lighting Designed by: Tim Mitchell.
Music by: Paul Englishby.
Sound Designed by: Martin Slavin.
Company Text and Voice Work by: Lyn Darnley, Stephen Kemble.
Movement by: Struan Leslie.
Fights by: Terry King.
Assistant Director: Justin Audibert.
Music Director: Julian Winn.
Casting by: Helena Palmer.