Friday, September 11, 2009

"Twelfth Night" - September 2009

When we responded to director Michael Emans' e-mail suggesting we might be interested in seeing Good Night Out Theatre’s production of Twelfth Night we teasingly warned him that it had been less than a year since we had seen the Donmar West End production of the play featuring Derek Jacobi as Malvolio. But what do you know, both Waldorf and I thought Mike Tibbetts as Malvolio outshone anything Jacobi produced - and the rest of the production was pretty impressive too…

Emans has brought a number of playful elements to the piece – a tartan clad fool, a rogueish Fabian played brilliantly by Lee Dunnachie as a Glasgow ned, a delightfully staged boxing match and an amusingly inserted ‘Big Brother' reference. But other aspects nudge towards being heavy handed – two lip synched songs and a rock’n’roll finish seeming particularly out of place. The pace is kept high and the show doesn’t feel its run time, but there remain moments in the text that wouldn’t have been missed had they been cut.

As Viola/Cesario, Karen Bartke gives an excellent performance displaying some beautiful comic timing – notably in a wonderfully expressive moment as we see the penny drop that Olivia has fallen for her/him. Olivia is played very much in light tones with no real examination of her purported grief or rebuffing of Orsino, but thanks to Laura McPherson’s adept performance the character remains charmingly amusing rather than self-absorbed and irritating. The treatment of Malvolio is remarkably sympathetic and the dour Scot persona fits the character perfectly. Tibbetts makes him equally believable as trusted steward, pompous ass and deluded fool.

There’s plenty of strong support in the form of Anne Marie Feeney’s Maria and Donald Munro’s Sir Toby. Lorenzo Novani did well with the wordy Orsino but there seemed a lack of spark between him and Cesario/Viola. I certainly can’t fault Glynis Poole's performance as Feste the fool, but in making the character quite so clownish it did start to grow old for me before the end (several honks on the horn too many!). The rest of the cast all acquit themselves well – especially Andy Williams’ touching portrayal of Antonio.

On the whole an enjoyable and accessible production of that rare thing - a genuinely funny Shakespeare play.

Twelfth Night runs at the Village Theatre, East Kilbride until Saturday 12th September.