ComedyReviewShakespeareShakespeare 400South West

Twelfth Night – Lyric, Theatre Royal, Plymouth

Writer: William Shakespeare
Director: Sean Holmes
Reviewer: Karen Bussell

If you like your Shakespeare in tights and big sleeves, avoid Filter’s recreated Twelfth Night.

With music being the food of love (along with pizza and Frosties in this production), it is apt that Illyriais seemingly set in a recording studio with ever present wires, instruments and electronic mixing devices.

There’s plenty of singing, jazz and sound effects as the classic tale of cross-dressing, crossed garters and crossed wires unfolds in a breathless chaotic romp. But you will need to know the story to keep up.

Amy Marchant has to beg the loan of a jacket and hat from the audience to transform Viola into Sebastian but most confusingly for the uninitiated the fact of there being two Sebastians is not revealed until the ultimate showdown. There is so much mayhem ongoing that any clever device of baffling the audience alongside the protagonists is lost.

Mellow voiced Crystal Condie plays Feste and Maria with only a clown’s red nose to differentiate the parts while Harry Jardine adeptly switches from regal conductor of the piece Orsino to nice-but-dim upper-class twit Aguecheek with the occasional assistance of a Butthead (a game involving Velcro balls) hat.

Jonathan Broadbent superbly struts his stuff shamelessly as Malvolio resplendent in yellow stockings, an interesting take on cross-gartering and channelling his inner Kylie (and Louis Smith) but any nastiness is lost in the general hubbub of the silliness on stage.

Olivia Darnley plays a straight bat as leather-skirted Olivia – the glue that holds the piece from descending into outright anarchy and her super sexy tones make clear her feminine attractions around which the play gyrates. Nicely done.

And then there is Sir Toby Belch. Towering Dan Poole, alone costumed in Tudor garb, clutching myriad carrier bags and cans of lager, reeling and burping his wending way in and around and under the action, makes the most of every comic nuance.

Versatile Laura Moody and Alan Pagan are the mainstay of the ever-present music and sound effects with help from all cast members with many scenes converted to song and the only real criticism, an overly long build-up to a drunken rendition of What Is Love?.

A great fun 90 minutes complete with snacks, slammers and snaking conga.

Runs until 21 May 2016 | Image: Filter

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