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Twelfth Night

“Exuberant exploration of gender”

Director Wils Wilson ventures into the parts of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night that most productions leave alone, cutting few, if any, lines in her exuberant, party-time exploration of gender and the deceptions of love.

The result is a pop-age house party in an abandoned country mansion, created with crepuscular detail by designer Ana Ines Jabares-Pita. The play is performed by the bored, hedonistic party-goers,the roles allocated on a gender blind basis. Meilyr Jones’ music gives body to Feste’s songs and supplements them with new ones that add extra glimpses of character detail.

Powerful and hugely entertaining, the production sustains itself over three hours without self-indulgence. Dylan Read is magnificent as a slightly fey Feste, as physically fleet of foot as he is quick witted with wordplay. Christopher Green’s Malvolio is an uptight bowler-hatted clerk with an outrageous drag queen hidden in his closet.

The gender explorations are particularly interesting. Both Orsino (Colette Dalal Tchantcho) and Sebastian (Joanne Thomson) are played as trouser roles, adding another layer to the love triangle between Orsino, Jade Ogugua’s clear Viola/Cesario and Lisa Dwyer Hogg’s infatuated Olivia.

Meanwhile, Dawn Sievewright’s Lady Tobi, bullying both her fellow actors and the audience, swaps gender, while celebrating Tobi’s intimacy with Olivia’s handmaid, Maria (Joanna Holden).

Of greater note is the way these shifts place the various love matches in relation to the gulling of Malvolio, which now becomes not an extreme (and somehow pointless) piece of sport, but one end of a spectrum of relationships based on false hope.

Related to this Review

Wils Wilson: ‘I enjoy drawing out the quirkiness a space can offer’Wils Wilson: ‘I enjoy drawing out the quirkiness a space can offer’

Production Details
Production nameTwelfth Night
VenueRoyal Lyceum Theatre
StartsSeptember 14, 2018
EndsOctober 6, 2018 then touring until November 17, 2018
Running time3hrs 10mins
AuthorWilliam Shakespeare
ComposerMeilyr Jones
DirectorWils Wilson
Musical directorAly Macrae
Set designerAna Ines Jabares-Pita
Lighting designerKai Fisher
Sound designerGregory Clarke
CastBrian James O’Sullivan, Christopher Green, Colette Dalal Tchantcho, Dawn Sievewright, Dylan Read, Guy Hughes, Jade Ogugua, Joanna Holden, Joanne Thomson, Lisa Dwyer Hogg
Production managerDavid Butterworth
Company stage managerDaniel Dixon
ProducerBristol Old Vic, Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh
VerdictMagnificent, music-infused Twelfth Night takes the play’s gender confusion to new levels
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Thom Dibdin

Thom Dibdin

Thom Dibdin

Thom Dibdin

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