As the opening play for the newly refurbished theatre, The Everyman, there was a lot of pressure to impress and Wednesday night didn’t disappoint. Many may pass up the opportunity to attend a Shakespearean play claiming it’s outdated, incomprehensible and dialogically claustrophobic. But Twelfth Night, directed by Gemma Bodinetz, will challenge anyone who believes Shakespeare is dull. Ashley Manning reviews…
The story begins with Viola, a woman who becomes shipwrecked and believes her brother has been drowned in the storm. Viola then disguises herself as her apparently deceased brother and becomes unavoidably intertwined within a love triangle involving the man she is servant to. This is accompanied by a comic subplot which provides light-hearted relief to an often slightly confusing story of identity, deception and love.
The scenery was initially minimalistic; a large mirror propped against a brick wall, a few chairs, a fireplace. But as the play began, the use and movement of the background was impressive, lending itself to add another dimension to wow the audience.
The casting was excellent. Matthew Kelly, Adam Keast, Paul Duckworth and Pauline Daniels, who performed as part of the comic subplot, had the audience laughing occasion upon occasion. Their chemistry was undoubted and each presented energetic characters that made an old classic play both humorous and full of life.
Credit must also be given to the cast as a whole, but most especially to Jodie McNee. She gave a convincing performance full of expression and emotion and offered an alternative tone to the play allowing both layers of comedy and moments of seriousness.
This version of Twelfth Night brings Shakespeare’s classic successfully into the modern age. Whether your current opinion of the playwright is positive or negative, I’d challenge anyone to go to this play and not enjoy it. (But be prepared though as it’s a little on the long side!)
You can read the original published article here.