Tuesday, 1 April 2014

TWELFTH NIGHT at The Nottingham Arts Theatre
by The People's Theatre Company

Shakespeare's most well known and best loved of his comedies is being played out at The Nottingham Arts Theatre all this week, and there are a few new faces in the cast of the People's Theatre, many "borrowed" from the Lace market Theatre.

It's the story of a shipwrecked pair of twins and their involvement with the townsfolk of Illyria and the comical confusion caused by their introduction into the town. Various sub plots and storylines make this a Shakespearian version of a soap opera with the inclusion of several musical interludes (lyrics by Bill Shakespeare and music by actor/guitarist Gareth Morris).

Set in a period around 1939/1940 the costumes were of that ilk with smart zoot suits, I was half expecting a guitar case with a gun entombed within. I suppose that is one thing with Shakespeare's plays, you can, should you wish to, set the plays in any decade and still retain the magic of Shakespeare's lyrical magic and adapt the era to attract a different generation every time.

Through the confusion of Viola, the female twin, masquerading as a male, Cesario and the rediscovery of the male twin, Sebastian, being the object of affection of Olivia who mistook Sebastian for Cesario (well they are twins), there was eventually a happy ending all round. Oh if Shakespeare were alive today he'd be writing pantos and soap scripts!

Great entertainment all round with some very able actors to the fore. I loved Ian Bennett as Malvolio, the "wronged" strait laced steward, duped by love. Rob Goll as Orsino. Rob has a certain way with words and the delivery of them, whether it be Shakespeare or whatever he takes on, it's always spot on.

Clare Choubey and Damien Frendo, as Viola and Sebastian, the twins, as always very natural with the script that to many sound unnatural, a wonderful pairing.

Comedy characters in abundance with Liam Hall as "The Fool" Feste, Sir Toby Belch ( Malcolm Seymour) and Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Ciaran Stones).

Director Dan Maddison has done a good job adapting the play and the script to clarify the comedy held within Shakespeare's words of old but I have just one little criticism, and this is only a personal observation. If I was directing, and I have absolutely no experience in that field, I would have advised one of the comedy characters to just tone it down a bit because the "over the top" presentation and vocal volumes slightly took away some of the comedy moments and lines. Bringing it down a notch and reining it in would have been a better option for me. I stress though that this is just my personal opinion. I am no expert on Shakespeare's characters or direction of actors.

I guarantee that you'll know some of the quotes from the play "If music be the food of love", "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em", but my favourite, " Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage". Shakespeare, a man way ahead of his time. On the whole I enjoyed this production, embraced the modern feel and understood the funny bits, which still rang through even though they were penned back around 1601.

You can see "Twelfth Night" until Saturday 5 April 2014

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