Review Round-up: Wilson's Festive First Night
Following hot on the heels of the Donmar's acclaimed Derek Jacobi-led production the previous year (See Review Round-up, 12 Dec 2008), this latest West End outing of Shakespeare's classic comedy of mistaken identity is directed by Gregory Doran, and continues to 27 February 2010.
Alongside Wilson, the cast also features Nancy Carroll (Viola), Alexandra Gilbreath (Olivia), Sam Alexander (Sebastian), James Fleet (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), Richard McCabe (Sir Toby Belch), Pamela Nomvete (Maria), Simeon Moore (Antonio), Jo Stone-Fewings (Orsino) and Miltos Yerolemou (Feste).
The raft of three star ratings disguises some major differences in critical opinion. For instance, while some were impressed with Wilson’s “melancholy” portrayal of Malvolio, others, including the Guardian's Michael Billington, felt his “poker-backed” performance was overly influenced by his desire to “shed the Victor Meldrew stereotype” (the Daily Telegraph's Dominic Cavendish suggested on the other hand that the interpretation, at least vocally, was “99 per cent Meldrew”).
Elsewhere, Alexandra Gilbreath was widely praised for her “outstanding” depiction of the wealthy countess Olivia and special mentions also went to Miltos Yeremelou for the “ebullient presence” of Feste, the “delightful tartan-trousered” James Fleet as Aguecheek and Nancy Carroll for her “excellent” Viola.
- by Theo Bosanquet & Kelly Ann Warden