Yet another Shakespearean outing, and another creative interpretation of a classic work by the bard. I do love a good reimagining of a Shakespeare play, as long as it stays true to this source material. Luckily this production manages to both respect and honour the original play, whilst having an immense amount of fun with it.
Upon entering, I was greeted with a firm handshake by a delightfully pompous Duke Orsino (Lucy Price), and moved on to my seat in already positive mood, as the cast moved around the settling audience, greeting and engaging people as they sat down. The whole tone is very relaxed and welcoming and puts the audience into a receptive mood as the performance starts.
Adaptation-wise, it’s good. The best pieces of the original play are cherry-picked and arranged together in a fine example of how compression of classic literature can be done well. The acting too, is of great quality with all the cast being capable and talented performers. My top picks would be Feste/Antonio (Lydia Stone), Olivia/Andrew (Megan Farquhar), Orsino/Toby Belch (Lucy Price) who all go that little extra mile in their performance. Price is hilarity personified, Stone demands attention simply by being on stage, and Farquhar is able to inject a delightful degree of subtlety and nuance into an otherwise beautifully campy and over-the-top production.
The musical/cabaret elements too are a lovely addition that helps this production mark itself out from the Shakespearean crowd. They very much add to fun atmosphere of the piece, and it helps that all the cast have demonstrable musical talent. Stone in particular has a rich, many-layered voice that melts in the ears. Mention must also go to Esther Mead’s performance as Malvolio, where in she moves seamlessly from the always-hilarious “yellow-stockings” scene into a highly moving rendition of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’.
It is true that, at times, the show does struggle to appropriately balance it’s comic and dramatic scenes, but that has been true of many an adaptation of Twelfth Night I’ve seen in the past. The show doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s a fun evening of drag, cabaret, and Shakespeare; these kind of show’s really are what Fringe is all about, after all. As modern day reimaginings of Twelfth Night go, and I’ve seen a few in my time, this one of the better, more original ones.