By heaven this Twelfth Night is a long one. Teachers with school parties will be fretting. People will have to leave early to catch the last trains. Babysitters will be upping their rates. Why are these facts of theatregoing life never taken into consideration?
That said, Ian Brown’s production has some style and there is much to applaud. A captivating performance from the scrumptious Hattie Morahan, as Viola, must be first on anyone’s list.
Brown has placed his actors on the French Riviera in the late thirties. They are an ex-pat community and it is the end of the season. A circular band stand, with tilted roof, dominates the vast set. Sand is everywhere and the actors have a mighty expanse of beach to cross.
The comedy is very well done but the play’s essential melancholy is hard to find. Toby Belch and his conspirators spying on Malvolio from a changing tent is pure Marx Brothers. John Lightbody delivers one of the best Andrew Aguecheeks seen for some time and Antony Byrne’s restrained Malvolio makes a welcome change from the norm. Poor Feste’s songs, though, are hardly captivating and they serve little purpose.
This Twelfth Night is not a sexy production. There is nothing beyond nudging and winking, although Susie Trayling as Olivia will set many pulses racing.
Chris Davey’s lighting is commendably subtle, dimming gently from fierce bursts of late September sun. The shadows linger, signalling the inevitability of autumn. The message to the lovers is clear - get on with it.