Twelfth Night

29/09/2010

Adrian Bhagat went to see Twelfth Night at the Playhouse


Twelfth Night at Nottingham Playhouse (photo:Robert Day)
Photo: Robert Day

Twelfth Night is perhaps the lightest of Shakespeare's comedies, with his familiar mix of cross-dressing, mistaken identity and bawdy revelry. The Playhouse's production is very competent, squeezing extra laughs from the script which were much enjoyed by the audience.

The scene of the action, the small town of Illyria, has been relocated to the coast of Brazil and the cast composed mostly of black actors. The play begins with thunder and lightning as siblings Sebastian and Viola are shipwrecked and separately washed up on the shore. Not knowing of each other's survival they each find their feet in the strange town. Viola disguises herself as a man to enter the service of Duke Orsino, whereas Sebastian is helped and shown around by the exceedingly camp Antonio. As well as much confusion between the identities of the two siblings, there are jokes played at the expense of Malvolio, servant to a countess, who is persuaded that his mistress loves him. Needless to say, it all comes out OK in the end and the right people fall in love and marry.

Twelfth Night at Nottingham Playhouse (photo:Robert Day)
Photo: Robert Day


It has to be said that, whilst this is a very good production of Twelfth Night, it doesn't seem to have gained much from being moved to Brazil. Apart from a few phrases in Portuguese thrown in, the language used is mostly from the original. Shakespeare can be hard to follow, though this play is probably one of the easiest, but the actor's accents created an extra obstacle in following the dialogue. The main innovation is that the (very occasional) fight scenes have been turned into capoeira contests, which made for a refreshing change.


Twelfth Night plays at Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 16th October 2010.

 

 

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