Friday, April 07, 2017

'Twelfth Night' by William Shakespeare

7 April 2017

Regular readers may remember I am a fan of the theatre director Simon Godwin, having really enjoyed his productions of 'Two Gentlemen of Verona' (reviewed here in July 2014), 'Man and Superman' (reviewed here in May 2015), 'The Beaux' Stratagem' (reviewed here in September 2015) and ‘Hamlet’ (reviewed here in April 2016). You may also have noticed that ‘Twelfth Night’ is one of my favourite Shakespeare plays – I’ve reviewed productions of ‘Twelfth Night’ here four times (in February 2007, August 2009, November 2009 and March 2012). So I was nervous about the incredibly raised expectations I was bringing to Simon Godwin’s National Theatre production of ‘Twelfth Night’ which we saw via the NT Live cinema screening on Thursday evening. For this we made a first visit to the beautiful new Quarry Theatre in Bedford – a converted church, owned and run by Bedford School. I needn’t have worried: Simon Godwin’s ‘Twelfth Night’ was a delight. The production, noted for casting Tamsin Greig as a female Malvolio (Malvolia), was not the most subtle I have seen. The comedy was broad and exaggerated, with plenty of mugging and glances at the audience. But it was very very funny. I enjoyed the more serious comedy moments, such as the tender scenes between Tamara Lawrance’s Cesario and Phoebe Fox’s Olivia (who were both excellent), better than the pantomimic performances of the more ridiculous characters. Even so, you couldn’t fail to laugh at Daniel Rigby’s nervously physical Andrew Aguecheek and Tim McMullan (who we last saw almost stealing the show as Mendoza and The Devil in that production of 'Man and Superman') playing Sir Toby Belch in the style of Bill Nighy. And Tamsin Greig gave a compelling performance as Malvolia, her body and face twitching to reveal each growing understanding of her predicament.

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