Sadly the end result on this occasion
is a somewhat unbalanced version of one of Shakespeare’s most
Let's start with the positives: there
are a couple of a stand-out performances and a brilliant set design.
Kirsty Bushell gives a fresh and
interesting interpretation of Olivia – finding nuances that I could
never have imagined from the familiar lines. She is constantly alert
to the situation and always catches the eye – even with the
smallest of gestures or looks.
As Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Bruce
Mackinnon confirms his potential as a great Shakespearean comedian.
His antics are a constant joy to watch with a great flexibility in
his physicality as well as in his verbal dexterity.
The performance makes a brilliant use
of the underlying scenic structures that are present for all of the
main house productions this season. Jon Bausor has designed an
atmospheric set that perfectly creates the feel of a decaying hotel
whilst never imposing itself on the action. It is truly a delight to
behold with wonderful use of distortion and angles to create visual
I wish I could be as positive about
some of the other elements.
Slinger has all the acting chops to be
a great Malvolio. Here he does not quite live up to his potential to
be one of the finest character actors of this generation. His
opening scenes work well – winning over the audience with a solidly
entertaining letter scene. It is after the interval that things
start to unravel.
In a modern dress production such as
this it is hard to come up with a costume solution for the yellow
stockings scene that is outrageous enough to suit the absurdity of
the situation while remaining true to the character. But I fear the
decision to pair the yellow stockings with a co-ordinating jockstrap
is a step too far. For me the sight of buttocks undermined the
wonderful writing of the scene because the audience was invited to
laugh at the costume at the expense of the situation or the
language. The audience loved it but I'm certain Mr Slinger is capable
of delivering the laughs without the need of such assistance from the
Some of the other cast members are
still finding their feet and there is a flatness to some of the
acting. Hopefully that will change.