On Wednesday 27th January after a quick refresh of the plot from Spark Notes, every GCSE student’s saviour, intrepid London Culture Clubbers made their way to the Duke of York theatre to see Shakespeare’s great comedy, Twelfth Night.
The themes of identity, love and madness were played out marvellously on the stage and, despite being at the back of the stalls, our view was excellent. The set design was fabulous and costumes (or lack thereof for some characters) were brilliant, really setting the mood of the piece. Overall the first half of the play was good, though not fantastic, but things drastically improved in the second half, aided by some cracking honey and ginger ice cream during the interval.
The main draw for this performance was Richard Wilson in the role of Malvolio. The general consensus was that he did not make enough of the role, being particularly disappointing in the letter scene and not playing up his supposed madness enough. Conversely I found the portrayal of Lady Olivia somewhat shrill and grating, though I suppose the OTT nature is how the character is intended to be played. Needless to say, if I were a bloke she would not be on the top of my ‘to do’ list; hardly a captivating beauty.
Luckily the three most comedic characters played off each other brilliantly and more than made up for other short comings. Sir Toby, Sir Andrew Augecheek and the Fool all seemed to be pissed out their heads and having a jolly good time playing their practical jokes. The Fool was particularly good when interacting with the audience, even stealing some malteasers from the front row at the start of the second act. Funny to observers, though he would have lost a hand had he tried that with my chocolate treats. Similarly, Augecheek, played by that chap from ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ James Fleet, gave brilliant asides as a drunken suitor and general coward.
Verdict: Definitely go if you can get the £5 tickets on the morning of the show (available for those aged under 26) but only pay full price if seeing on the weekend as I expect it will have a bit more energy with a fuller house.