Twelfth Night (York Theatre Royal 29th April 2009 and 1st May 2009)

Twelfth Night is always a popular play and there are several productions this year. There has been the Donmar Warehouse production, which I wrote about in this blog and there is to be a RSC production in the autumn with Richard Wilson as Malvolio. The York Theatre Royal production is entertaining and thought provoking and well worth a visit.

The Theatre Royal production starts with screen and a film of the two twins underwater trying to cling on to each other and loosing each other. This is a reminder that the play is a reworking of The Comedy of Errors, when two sets of twins are shipwrecked and are unaware of the existence of their siblings. The difference with Twelfth Night is that the twins think that they have lost their family and are alone. Twelfth Night is like Hamlet in that it deals with death, but as I said when I talked about the Donmar production, the play changes its tone. It’s Juliet Forster’s focus on both the comedy and dark elements of the play that makes this production so good.

In this Theatre Royal production, I felt that Orsino (Sam Haeldine) is angry, as well as melancholy. It is clear that he finds Olivia’s (Jade Anouka) rejection frustrates him. He wants things to happen quickly. This is particularly evident in the way Orsino’s opening speech. In this production you can see why Viola (Danielle King) is attracted to him and as she half coyly observed him undressing in the ‘patience on a monument’ scene’. We can also see why Viola is attracted to Viola because Viola says the things that she thinks a woman should hear.

The production gets a really nice balance between the light and dark. The whole set is used for the overhearing scene and the drinking scene is really funny and we see a moment of cruelly to Malvolio (Dick Bradnum) that will happen later in the play. The set used subtle beige, ochre and golden yellows and represented both houses and the outside scenes. The play was set in a timeless place and really emphasised the idea of a dream-like quality, which from the production notes in the programme the creative team aimed to create. A semi constructed bird cage is contrasted with gym equipment to depict the masculine and feminine worlds of the houses. It is these contrasts and the overall aesthetic of the production which made watching it a delight.

Reviews and Previews

Twelfth Night York Theatre Royal (From The Nort…
The Stage / Reviews / Twelfth Night
The Stage / Reviews / Twelfth Night
Twelfth Night York Theatre Royal (From The Nort…
Preview: Twelfth Night (or What You Will), York…

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