Fringe Box



Review: Twelfth Night – Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Published on: 24 May, 2017
Updated on: 24 May, 2017

Bottle-swigging Sir Toby Belch (Lauryn Redding) accosts Antonia (Emma McDonald).

By Alice Fowler

Shakespeare? Seen it all before, right? Anyone for whom the bard equates with boredom should hotfoot it to the Yvonne Arnaud theatre this week, where a thrilling double treat awaits.

Two of Shakespeare’s most familiar plays – Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet – have been reimagined and reinvigorated by the extremely talented Watermill Theatre.

I was lucky enough to see Twelfth Night, set in the jazz era of the 1920s, in which the cast not merely acted, but also sang, danced and played music to an astonishingly high standard.

This is a production full of humour in which Shakespeare’s tale of mistaken identities, seduction and transformation had the audience roaring with laughter.

Standout performances included Victoria Blunt as Maria, the feisty servant whose letter causes Malvolio’s downfall; Mike Slader as a hilarious Sir Andrew Aguecheek; and last but not least Peter Dukes as Malvolio.

Dukes, who trained at the Guildford School of Acting, milked every drop of humour in Malvolio’s transformation from hoity-toity steward to deluded lovelorn fool, shaking his yellow-stockinged legs from behind a screen.

Who could fail to laugh at a man with a purple boa flung across his naked chest, yellow stockings and a suspender belt? All credit to Dukes then that by the time Malvolio is locked up and humiliated, we feel only sympathy for him.

All the cast delighted in different ways, shifting effortlessly between comedy and pathos. The Yvonne Arnaud stage was transformed into a jazz club and the actors into singers and musicians.

Memorable songs included ‘Mad World’ and ‘Georgia on My Mind’, with particular credit to the superb singing voice of Aruhan Galieva, who played Olivia. Effective lighting bathed the stage in red, blue and purple, while rose petals drifted to the floor.

Capulet’s Wine Bar in Romeo & Juliet

The same cast presents Romeo and Juliet this week – doubtless another production not to be missed. The Watermill Theatre, based new Newbury, has a reputation as one of Britain’s most exciting regional theatres, and from this performance it is easy to see why.

Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet continue at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre until Saturday. Box Office tel. 01483 440000.

Share This Post

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *