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Twelfth Night review at Blue Elephant Theatre, London – ‘lacking a sense of style’

The cast of Twelfth Night at the Blue Elephant Theatre, London. Photo: Sam Dunstan The cast of Twelfth Night at the Blue Elephant Theatre, London. Photo: Sam Dunstan
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Original Impact’s heavily edited version of Twelfth Night retains much of the play’s comedy while underscoring the action with a mix of physical theatre, beatboxing and occasional bursts of live music.

The cast of 10 actors demonstrate a reasonable grasp of the language and the exchanges between Eve Niker’s love-struck Maria and Katie Turner’s thinly disguised Viola prove one of the more satisfying strands of this production.

There is some strong vocal work from Andi Jashari’s booming Orsino, subtly insinuating his dominance over the island with a powerful stage presence. Timothy Weston’s Malvolio is a little thinly drawn in comparison and the scenes of his incarceration are lacking in pathos. But he raises a laugh as he struts on stage in denim cut-offs and stilettos – more cross-dressing than cross-gartered.

Director Sam Dunstan injects some interesting ideas into the play. He’s turned Ilyria into a party island and made Joshua Jewkes’ bilious Sir Toby Belch an ageing clubber, while Dinos Psychogios’ Sir Andrew has become a wannabe DJ.

It’s not a bad fit thematically, but Dunstan’s direction fails to match it in terms of momentum. There are bursts of energy, rhythm and music that hint at something more exciting, but otherwise this is a fairly standard interpretation of the text.

The production manages to drag despite the seemingly constant jaunty pace and the lack of a designer further impacts on the overall concept.

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Modest production containing a few bright ideas but lacking a cohesive sense of style