by William Shakespeare.
English Touring Theatre Tour to 29 November 2014.
Runs 2hr 45min One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 28 October at Watford Palace Theatre.
Clarity’s the virtue of this dark and stormy Twelfth Night.
Twelfth Night sees the Christmas decorations come down, and William Shakespeare’s famous comedy carries its own sadness. The journey may end in lovers’ meeting, but there are also solitary departures and, as director Jonathan Munby shows, a degree of ambiguity.
Drunken Sir Toby and Maria may be heading towards the kind of querulous partnership Rosalind predicts for As You Like It’s country lovers. And the arrival of identical twins Sebastian and Viola (she in men’s attire) questions which attracts the high-ranking Olivia and Orsino, both dragged into the emotional swirl.
Sebastian’s also attracted to sea-captain Antonio, who risks so much for him. There’s a moment they might stick together, but as a new social stability arrives it’s inevitable Antonio will be departing alone.
As will Sir Andrew; particularly undeserved for Milo Twomey’s innocent, a nifty dancer, golden hair styled indeed like flax awaiting a distaff. He’s likeable, though vulnerable to the insincere assurance of David Fielder’s Toby Belch.
Fielder leads with the voice. From early on there’s a relationship suggested between him and Doña Croll’s Maria, who has her own distinct temper.
Importantly, in light of the play’s turn towards darker action in the treatment of Malvolio, the full plot against the over-serious Steward is clearly an improvised extension of their original plot and a scheme hatched in the heat of initial success.
Munby shows, as did Tim Supple’s Young Vic production some years ago, that the closest family tie is that of brother and sister, the happiest, typically Shakespearean, moment is the twins’ reunion. At the moment Sebastian bursts on to the stage, unseen by Viola, there’s an immediate shock of similarity in their appearance which unites them in audience minds.
The cost is the limited physical business. Hugh Ross’s sober-mannered Malvolio is allowed little in the impact of his yellow sticking and cross-gartering. His nemesis, Brian Protheroe’s downbeat old Feste, is the one whose imagination opens up the box of tricks, summoning the characters into the dilapidated mansion of Colin Richmond’s set, and watching them disappear in his final song; such things, maybe, as dream are made on.
Sebastian: Michael Benz.
Sea Captain/Priest: Christopher Chilton.
Valentine/Second Officer: Jonathan Christie.
Maria: Doña Croll.
Orsino: Jake Fairbrother.
Sir Toby Belch: David Fielder.
Fabian: Colm Gormley.
Curio/First Officer/Servant: Ben Hall.
Olivia: Rebecca Johnson.
Feste: Brian Protheroe.
Viola: Rose Reynolds.
Malvolio: Hugh Ross.
Sir Andrew Aguecheek: Milo Twomey.
Antonio: Ross Waiton.
Director: Jonathan Munby.
Designer: Colin Richmond.
Lighting: Chris Davey.
Sound: Carolyn Downing.
Composer: Grant Olding.
Movement: Lucy Hind.
Company Voice work: Kate Godfrey.
Fight director: Kate Waters.
Assistant director: Peter Bradley.