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Twelfth Night (Crucible Theatre)

Jonathan Munby's Twelfth Night is "the best Shakespeare production to come out of Sheffield Theatres for some years"

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

At the heart of English Touring Theatre's production of Twelfth Night success is Brian Protheroe's superb portrayal of the potentially difficult character of Feste. Protheroe's Feste is not just a fool, but a balladeer, whose haunting renditions of the play's songs - beautifully scored by composer Grant Olding - seem to conjure up the play in front of our very eyes, and pack it safely away again when all is resolved.

Front (L-R): Milo Twomey as Sir Andrew Aguecheek and David Fielder as Sir Toby Belch. Back (L-R): Brian Protheroe as Feste and Rose Reynolds as Viola
© Mark Douet

There are many notable performances: Rose Reynolds's bold but tender Viola is convincing as boy and girl; Jake Fairbrother's Orsino is charismatic and compelling; Milo Twomey's Aguecheek draws its considerable humour from a subtler well than is usual; and Ross Waiton's complex, impassioned Antonio makes full sense of a too oft glossed over role. Alongside these, there are no weak links in an ensemble that is physically and vocally strong.

Jonathan Munby's direction is tight, inventive and sympathetic to the atmosphere of storytelling at the root of the play. His vision is well-supported by Colin Richmond's simple, workable, yet striking design. The play's comedy is lightly played, resulting in more smiles than belly-laughs, but the work is none the poorer for this. All in all, this is the best Shakespeare production to come out of Sheffield Theatres for some years.

Twelfth Night continues at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield until 18 October 2014 and then tours the following venues:

21 - 25 Oct: Blackpool Grand Theatre

28 Oct - 1 Nov: Watford Palace Theatre

4 - 8 Nov: Cambridge Arts Theatre

11 - 15 Nov: Hall for Cornwall, Truro

18 - 22 Nov: Richmond Theatre

25 - 29 Nov: Theatre Royal, Brighton