Sixties Shakespeare from the Company of Ten

PUBLISHED: 11:00 12 May 2016

Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night


Sounds of the sixties will be Blowin’ in the Wind at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans where the Company of Ten is putting on an all-female production of Twelfth Night, one of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies.

Twelfth NightTwelfth Night

Director Derek Coe has set the play during the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, with the music and dress reflecting the time. Snatches of songs by Leonard Cohen, Jimi Hendrix, The Moody Blues and Donovan, to name a few, can occasionally be heard drifting over from the festival, as a background to the action. The play also has its own songs which Jill Priest, who plays Feste, has adapted to give a seventies vibe. Some are A Capella, some with backing music she recorded herself.

The action takes place away from the actual festival, between two plush beachside houses, but the holiday atmosphere can be felt. Twelfth Night, in Shakespeare’s time, was the festival of mis-rule, when normal rules were relaxed.

Derek said: “It was a short-lived escape from everyday life, just like the Isle of Wight festival. As a boy, I had idyllic holidays there, and to me it seems as much a fantasy setting as Shakespeare’s Illyria.”

As most of the cast are playing men, only two are wearing dresses, complete with floppy hats, strings of beads, and flowers in their hair. The rest, according to costume mistress, Leslie Ivinson, are sporting ‘velvet suits and colourful separates, reminiscent of Carnaby Street and Sgt. Pepper. Some came from our existing wardrobe, others were from people, who, luckily for us, had hung on to their vintage clothes’.

Performances take place on the Abbey Theatre main stage at 8pm tomorrow and Saturday, May 13 and 14, and from next Tuesday, May 17, to Saturday, May 21.

There is also a Sunday matinee at 2.30pm this weekend and an audio-described performance next Thursday, May 19.

To book tickets click here or call the box office on 01727 857861.

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