Twelfth Night: William Shakespeare

RSC, Main House: Stratford
Running Time: 2¾ hours
Review Date: 12th May 2001

Director has not got the measure of this play.

Director Lindsay Posner has not really got the measure of this play. The combination of this with some indifferent casting makes for a disappointing result.Twelfth Night explores the notion of love in a play which achieves a balance between delicacy and knock-about comedy. Shakespeare’s play varies from stunning poetry to farcical plotting. You need to understand the equilibrium and ensure that the balance is achieved through Shakespeare’s words and his all important choice of song and music. The problem with Posner’s production is that he has made decisions that work for individual moments but do not add up to a coherent whole. The balance is never achieved.

For instance, Feste has beautiful, traditional songs, each one of which is a crucial element in setting tone or mood. Posner has allowed composer Gary Yershon to create song settings which perversely work against the mood they should be creating. Feste (Mark Hadfield) is left high and dry, good at telling jokes but not much good for anything else.

The comic trio Maria, Sir Toby and Sir Andrew are immensely well served by Alison Fiske, Barry Stanton and Christopher Good: broad, rounded characterisations which never lose touch with reality. Fiske is particularly good, creating a Maria who is equal parts good mate and bossy Edwardian governess. Sadly, Guy Henry underplays Malvolio; Henry has the skill to create a much more comic character without compromising the darker side. We must laugh at Malvolio because he is ridiculous, it is part of the play’s design.

Viola (Zoe Waites) is mostly adequate, but fails to truly excavate the role’s potential. Matilda Ziegler, (Olivia) is excruciating, entirely out of her depth.

Director: Lindsay Posner
Designer: Ashley Martin-Davis
Lighting: Pat Collins
Music: Gary Yershon
Sound: Mic Pool

Orsino: Jo Stone-Fewings
Curio: Joseph England
Valentine: Giles Fagan
Viola: Zoe Waites
Attendant: David Hinton
Olivia: Matilda Ziegler
Sir Toby Belch: Barry Stanton
Maria: Alison Fiske
Sir Andrew Aguecheek: Christopher Good
Feste: Mark Hadfield
Malvolio: Guy Henry
Fabian: Wayne Cater
Maid: Victoria Duarri
Maid: Penelope Woodman
Sea Captain: James Telfer
Sebastian: Ben Meyjes
Antonio: Joseph Mydell
First Officer: David Hinton
Second Officer: Sean Hannaway
Priest: James Telfer

2001-07-17 19:52:39

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