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Twelfth Night – Project Arts Centre, Dublin

Writer: William Shakespeare

Music: John Doran, Peter Reid, Daithi Mac Suibhne

Director: Peter Reid

Reviewer: Alan Foran

[rating: 4.5]

Twelfth Night PAC 8th JulyOn a very warm, summer’s evening, seeing a production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night might not be everyone’s ‘food of love’, but the brightness of the summer day was present inside the theatre for AC Productions colourful and very enjoyable staging of this classic play.

Set in the imagined Illyria, with a number of characters from Orsino. We are brought through romance, duplicity, trick playing and word play all in the one evening. But will everyone get what, or who, they are looking for? That remains to be seen in this bawdy and riotous play, which could be the screwball comedy of its time.

Peter Reid uses the space well, never crowding it, or letting anyone seem lost on a very simple set. With red drapes framing a proscenium arch in The Cube of the Project Arts, Reid paces the action well. The first number of scenes introduce the audience to a diverse range of characters and moves quickly, but not too fast, to ensure we get to know them and their various predicaments. The language is understandable, and enjoyable without dwelling too long, or dragging it out, although there are times where it is a little too quick.

It is in the characters, each made distinctive by their nature, that the joy lies. The modern dress makes them accessible to a modern audience, but it is these costumes, designed by Fiona Ryan, that gives each character an external difference, from open shirts and dangling chains, to sleeveless denim jackets, allowing the character stand out, and it allows the actor to embody them successfully.

The actors really do form a company and feel so at ease with each other on stage, as if they have been together years, and this confidence shows in how they pull together into a single unit. Daithi Mac Suibhne as Feste embodies a line in the play so well: “This fellow is wise enough to play the fool”, and never did a line ring so true, and he plays him brilliantly, understated, knowing, subtle. Mac Suibhne acts through his fingertips, every movement as considered as the words he speaks, all a part of the character, making it rich and satisfying to watch. Patrick O’Donnell gives a great comedy performance, with a range of expressions used just right to bring out the moment, and this character is also a victim of the trickery so evident in the play.

The music in the piece, a number of songs played subtley on guitar by the actors themselves have a lovely medieval feel to them, many musicals would ache to have as part of their score. Lighting is important in a simple, but effective, staging, and John Crudden’s design achieves this with moves from the outdoors, to the sea and into darkness, working well.

AC Productions original aim when founded was to produce classic drama, and they have done a sterling job in this production, with laughter coming from the audience, you can see that Reid and the cast and crew have hit the right notes. It is very enjoyable evening, one that doesn’t drag, and has a host of wonderful actors that make it all a warm, fun night out.

Runs until 20 July, 2013

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