Stephen Beresford’s staging of Twelfth Night - which opens at the Albery Theatre on 26 August 2004 (previews from 19 August) - transposes Shakespeare’s Illyria to contemporary India where honour codes, the rules of marriage, holy men, beliefs and the significance of festival find a fresh relevance.
The new production features Bollywood’s Neha Dubey (as Olivia), whose films include Monsoon Wedding and The Perfect Husband, as well as 21-year-old Indian newcomer Raagha Chanana (as Sebastian), who was discovered at an open audition in Delhi. They’re joined in the Twelfth Night by British-Asian stars Paul Bhattacharjee (Malvolio), Kulvinder Ghir (Feste) and Raza Jaffrey (Orsino).
Bhattacharjee's recent stage credits include Hobson’s Choice (Young Vic), the RSC Jacobean season and, currently Guantanamo (Tricycle). Ghir is best known for TV’s Goodness Gracious Me and has been seen on stage in Midnight’s Children, Caucasian Chalk Circle and The Waiting Room. Jaffrey created the role of Akaash in Bombay Dreams.
Also in the 15-strong cast are Paul Bazely (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), Shereen Martineau (Viola), Madhav Sharma (Sir Toby Belch) and Harvey Virdi (Maria).
The production marks the West End directorial debut of actor and writer Beresford (pictured), who was most recently seen on stage in A Laughing Matter and She Stoops to Conquer at the National and on tour and who is currently writing a TV series for Channel Four.
Twelfth Night is designed by Jonathan Fensom, with lighting by Jason Taylor, sound by Fergus O’Hare and original music by Sara Dillon. It’s presented by Background Productions, whose other current West End shows are Journey's End and Trevor Nunn’s production of Hamlet.
Currently at the Albery, Michael Grandage’s Sheffield production of Suddenly Last Summer, starring Diana Rigg and Victoria Hamilton, is due to finish its limited season on 31 July 2004.
- by Terri Paddock