Twelfth Night at the Royal Exchance
16 September 2003 WOS Rating: Average Reader Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews Following her innovative take on last year, director A Midsummer Night's Dream Lucy Bailey works her magic on another Shakespeare play at the Royal Exchange. But can lightning strike twice? The audience on the night I attended Bailey's would certainly like to think so. And, from Twelfth Night Katrina Lindsay's water-logged set to Steve Brown's eerie sound effects, it is clear that the 'wrapping' is spot on. It's a shame then that the production feels as if it's slightly over-egged in other departments.
I blame the panoply of post-modern references.
The Simpsons, The Godfather, Burt Baccharach and even Kool and The Gang are all thrown into the melting pot. This mixture of the bard and popular culture worked in Bailey's , but this time round it feels rather more forced and 'knowing.' I kept experiencing that awful sinking feeling you get when a joke is repeated ad nauseum in a movie sequel - just in case you didn't get it! Dream
Still, Shakespeare's comedy of mistaken identity, practical jokes and unrequited love remains intact, the beautiful language on the whole untouched. Believing her brother drowned, Viola disguises herself as a man and finds employment with the duke. He's in love with Olivia who's in love with the in cognito Viola.
Emma Cunniffe's is wonderful as the independently minded and quietly determined Viola, embracing with great emotion Shakespeare's verse and convincing in her display of both male and female traits. As Olivia, Madeleine Worrall is also very effective. She revels in the rich dialogue and really comes into her own with the physical elements of the production.
A special mention should also go to
Teachers star Ellen Thomas. Her Maria is funny, mischievous and a delight to watch. Each member of the cast has much ground to cover as the set consists of stairs leading right up to the galleries. They all rise to the occasion with aplomb, involving the audience at every turn.
Overall, though, Bailey's brave production tries too hard to be different. Modernising classic texts is fine as long as it can be done fairly seamlessly and with some real purpose. But here, rather than adding anything new, the constant 'nods' and 'winks' to the present begin simply to irritate.
- Glenn Meads
Subscribe to our free newsletter
Featured Editor's Picks
: The economic impact of Arts & Culture in the UK Infographic When Culture Secretary Maria Miller called for the arts to make their "economic case" for subsidy, t... Brief Encounter with ... The Kite Runner's Ben Turner Ben Turner stars in the stage version of the bestselling book The Kite Runner, which runs at Liverpo... Titus Andronicus (RSC) This latest production of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, to borrow from football punditry, is a p... Plays Cast: Harry Potter star in Southwark Moment, more for Branagh's Macbeth Bonnie Wright, best known for playing Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter films, will make her stage d... Michael Coveney: Charity begins at home with John Lyon's I've occasionally written about the work of the John Lyon's Charity, for whom I'm an adviser, and wh... : Britain's outdoor theatres Take Five With half-term approaching, the weather (hopefully) set to improve for the bank holiday weekend and ... West End Live returns to Trafalgar Square next month West End Live, a weekend of free entertainment from top London shows, will return to Trafalgar Squar... : 'I carry the ghost of Gregory Peck on my shoulders' Robert Sean Leonard Actor Robert Sean Leonard is currently playing Atticus Finch in Timothy Sheader's production of To K... X Factor musical titled I Can't Sing!, opens Palladium March 2014 The forthcoming X Factor musical will be called I Can't Sing! The Musical and will premiere at the L... Donmar stages Nick Payne premiere, Wesker's Roots & Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus The Donmar Warehouse has announced its new season, which features the premiere of Nick Payne's new p...