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Twelfth Night, Shakespeare’s Globe

William Shakespeare
Directed by Tim Carroll

Pros: A great ensemble, wonderful music, and some amazing laugh out loud moments.

Cons: Really?

Our Verdict: Do whatever needs to be done to see this one. (Legally).

Courtesy of Simon Annand for The Daily Telegraph

Before you get all hot and flustered at our ‘rule-breaking’, we booked our tickets months and months ago and also queued an hour in advance to ensure ourselves good positioning in the yard. What I’m trying to say is, we know there’s a critic’s embargo on this play but we’re not Press, we’re a (distinctly mediocre) blog, so don’t hate.

When this production was first conceived and played ten years ago, most of us bloggers were twelve year-olds more interested in rollerblading and our Sega Mega Drives. So it’s wonderful to be able to witness the greatness this time around. There is something quite special about a piece of theatre that has been lying in wait for years, maturing and now re-made for a whole new audience to enjoy, and whilst we aren’t usually the kind of blog to write over-sickly sweet reviews, I’m going to find it very hard not to gush about this one.

At over three hours long, it’s not the easiest on the feet of standing audience members, however since it’s transferring to the Apollo next month this hardly matters. Long though it is, the play doesn’t feel lengthy and is certainly never dull but rather makes full use of each moment so that if there’s comedy to be had, we will most certainly have all of it. There are developments in this play that are often rushed or overlooked in other versions of Shakespeare’s most popular comedy. Confused, tender moments between Orsino, played once again by the brilliant Liam Brennan, and his Cesario are not only hilarious but also help us in the build up towards the last scene. So often do we give too much importance to the obviously funny characters that we fail to make the most of the comedy in Olivia and Orsino too. This play does it all and does it extremely well with a cast comprising big names, originals from the 2002 production and newer members.

Returning to play Feste as before, Peter Hamilton Dyer delights the audience again and again, alongside equally great performances from Colin Hurley as Sir Toby, James Garnon as Fabian and Roger Lloyd Pack as the most unfortunate Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Stephen Fry’s Malvolio is, as expected, a delight to watch and in my opinion the comedy is only heightened by his celebrity and does not rest on it as we had feared it might.

In keeping with the production’s wish not to let too much get out before the show transfers to the Apollo, I don’t want to give too much away about individual performances. All I will say is that Mark Rylance’s Olivia is divinely – dare I say hysterically – comical. What can you say about an actor who puts an incredible amount of commitment and diligence into each role he undertakes, except to stand and applaud the result at the end? Considering that this season he has also appeared as Richard in the Globe’s Richard III, one can only marvel at his talent, depth and range. Talking about reprising the role of Olivia in an interview for the BBC, Rylance described it as; “…like meeting an old friend”. Under his command, Olivia is still grieving but also quite clearly unhinged, producing some of the funniest moments in the entire play.

The Guardian website have been looking at what readers are saying on Twitter and judging by the reaction, there’s no doubt this production is hitting all the right notes:

@maxolesker said: “Five or so curtain calls and a standing ovation. Stephen Fry danced. Isn’t The Globe bloody fantastic. #TwelfthNight”

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

Twelfth Night’s run at the Globe lasts until 14th October 2012, and is already completely sold out. It transfers to the Apollo Theatre on 2nd November 2012 and then runs until 9th February 2013.
Box Office for the Apollo: 0844 482 9671 or book online at http://www.nimaxtheatres.com/apollo-theatre/twelfth_night

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