Saturday 22 December 2012

Twelfth Night

Shakespeare’s Globe, London
27th September, 2012

When booking was open for Tim Carroll’s revival production Twelfth Night with Mark Rylance reprising his performance as Olivia and Stephen Fry now playing Malvolio, I got a ticket straight away not realising that tickets would sell out within weeks.

This was my first trip to Shakespeare’s Globe on the Southbank but won’t be my last. The atmosphere is buzzing especially in the Groundlings where I stood (for a very reasonable £5) and you could tell that every audience member was up for a brilliant afternoon of Shakespeare. I saw a very confusing production of Twelfth Night a couple of years ago done by Filter, but Tim Carroll’s Original Practice production (with an all-male cast) is clear, accessible and extremely funny.

After seeing Mark Rylance in Jerusalem I was so looking forward to seeing him as Olivia and he didn’t disappoint. Demure, guarded and the polar opposite of Richard III (which he’s also playing this season), Rylance excels as the mourning, but funny, Lady Olivia. I think his performance could do well in next year’s awards season. At one point when pleading with tears trying to stop a fight in her court, she runs off stage only to come hurrying back on swinging an axe on a huge pole much to the audience’s pleasure. Johnny Flynn’s Violet and Samuel Barnett’s Sebastian are both excellent as the identical twins – in fact, I found it hard to tell which one was which and found that a scar on one of their cheeks distinguished between them.
The whole company surpassed high expectations with their performances, but special mention must go to Roger Lloyd-Pack as Andrew Aguecheek, Paul Chahidi as Maria with big cleavage and baby steps to give the effect of him gliding across the stage and Colin Hurley as Sir Toby Belch who spends much of his time reaching for alcohol that he’s concealed across the stage.

Stephen Fry is also excellent as the mad-descending Malvolio, although didn’t quite reach a level of malevolence that I was expecting of the character but which could well be reached after spending more time in the role – this is, after all, early on in the run.

In the last scene, in a poignant moment with Viola and Sebastian reunite, a pigeon landed on the stage which received much laughter from the audience. Many actors have said that this is the best theatre in which to perform in the world as you can really act with the audience and feed off of their reactions. Certainly, the cast (some sooner than others) acknowledged the pigeon, ending in one of the twins turning around and seeing what the audience had been laughing at but all superbly staying in character. It soon flew off again followed by much cheering.

Whether you’re an avid Shakespeare-goer or even if you don’t go to theatre that often, I fully recommend going to see this production of Twelfth Night as it is one of the best theatrical experiences I’ve had and certainly proved to be the theatre event of the Summer.

Tim Carroll’s production of Twelfth Night played at Shakespeare’s Globe until 14th October, 2012 and has now transferred to the West End. It is playing alternate performances along with the Globe’s Richard III which has the cast, apart from Stephen Fry.

Both productions have garnered five star reviews in the press.

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