Twelfth Night review: ‘I loved its energy, enthusiasm, comedy and originality’

PUBLISHED: 18:15 08 April 2019 | UPDATED: 12:14 09 April 2019

OVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou Morris

OVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou Morris

Lou Morris

Madeleine Burton reviews OVO’s musical production of Twelfth Night at the Maltings Arts Theatre.

OVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou MorrisOVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou Morris

Twelfth Night as you have never seen it before is currently delighting audiences at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans.

For this version of Shakespeare’s play should be entitled Twelfth Night: The Musical because of the inspiring use of music in the production by OVO.

While it may not be to the taste of Shakespeare purists, I loved it for its energy, enthusiasm, comedy and originality.

Director Adam Nichols has chosen to set it in the Roaring Twenties because the hedonistic lifestyle of that era is perfect for the tale of the twins Viola and Sebastian who are shipwrecked and Viola’s adventures aboard the rescue vessel, the SS Illyria.

OVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou MorrisOVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou Morris

As a result we have the twins as vaudeville performers, Lady Toby Belch, a washed up music hall star, and Sir Andrew Aguecheek, an upper class twit.

Olivia becomes a famous actress and there is plenty of action in and around a piano.

All this is played out against a background of jazz music, including arrangements of contemporary songs, and as a result the production never sags as more traditional Shakespeare can do.

Lucy Crick, always a pleasure to see on the local stage, takes the role of Viola, who is disguised as a boy Cesario on the ship.

OVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou MorrisOVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou Morris

A consummate actress, all her talents come to the fore from her Shakespearean diction to comedy scenes – including hilarious moments when she hides her womanly appendages – and her singing voice.

The comedy roles were dominated by James Douglas, who played Sir Andrew Aguecheek as a Hooray Henry with more than a touch of Prince Charles in his speech and manner, and Faith Turner as Malvolia.

The gender difference in the famous Twelfth Night character did not matter a jot and the fact that he became a she made the final scene even more poignant.

Faith’s fabulous singing voice crowned an excellent performance.

OVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou MorrisOVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou Morris

Much of the singing is in the hands of Hannah Francis as Feste, transformed from the Fool to Master of Ceremonies – a clever ploy and great fun.

She also played several instruments as did other members of the cast, which brought another dimension to the show.

Thanks to the combined efforts of the cast and creative team, OVO have come up with another cracking production.

The district council’s decision to allow the drama company to run the Maltings Arts Theatre seems more inspired with every play they put on.

OVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou MorrisOVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou Morris

• Further performances at the Maltings Arts Theatre can be seen until Saturday, April 13 before Twelfth Night transfers to the Rose Playhouse in London.

OVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou MorrisOVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou Morris

OVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou MorrisOVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou Morris

OVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou MorrisOVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou Morris

OVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou MorrisOVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou Morris

OVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou MorrisOVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou Morris

OVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou MorrisOVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou Morris

OVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou MorrisOVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou Morris

OVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou MorrisOVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou Morris

OVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou MorrisOVO's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Picture: Lou Morris

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