The production is helmed by Donmar artistic director Michael Grandage and designed by Christopher Oram, the same creative pair behind Ivanov, and the ensemble cast features Victoria Hamilton as Viola, Indira Varma as Olivia, Samantha Spiro as Maria, Mark Bonnar as Orsino, Lloyd Hutchinson as Antonio, Zubin Varla as Feste, Guy Henry as Andrew Aguecheek and Ron Cook as Sir Toby Belch.
Shakespeare\'s great comedy of mistaken identity and cross-dressing, Twelfth Night tells of Viola, who, shipwrecked and fearing her twin brother dead, is swept onto the shores of Illyria. Disguising herself as a boy, she takes a post in the Duke\'s court and, on his behalf, attempts to woo his loved one, the Lady Olivia.
Although failing to repeat the complete cross-critic consensus that greeted Ivanov, Twelfth Night still proved itself a strong second installment in the stellar Donmar season with a clutch of five-star ratings. Jacobi\'s Malvolio was praised for its humour and “arrogant hauteur” - described by one critic as “a blend of Beau Brummell, Lord Chesterfield, Casanova and Napoleon”. Among his co-stars, Ron Cook and Guy Henry made for a “terrific double-act” as the two \'Sirs\' - Belch and Aguecheek - while Alex Waldman, Mark Bonnar and Indira Varma also drew high praise. Any gripes were mostly with the choice of setting, some critics finding the sun-drenched early 20th century design created “visual contradictions” in an otherwise “luxuriant” production.
- by Theo Bosanquet