BWW Reviews: TWELFTH NIGHT, The Castle, Harrow and The Rose, Bankside
Permanently Bard have here created a raucous, delightfully silly and beautifully pitched production of one of Shakespeare's more ridiculous works. Twelfth Night tells of ship-wrecks, romance, cross-dressing, mistaken identities & absolutely wonderful hosiery - everything you could want of a classical comedy. And this version even ends with a jig.
One of the things that makes this production such fun is its underlying concept: Permanently Bard produce Shakespeare in beer gardens. Surely that's a recipe for a lovely evening? The entire experience is happily relaxed and the lack of pretension in the show's settings is very appropriate for the script's tone. Shakespeare ought, after all, to be for the masses.
Director Sean Turner quotes that to be a good director, one must be surrounded by talented people, and he is certainly surrounded by an energetically talented bunch, but has also done an excellent job himself, picking out moments in the script that could easily have gone to the wayside in less observant and bold hands. Richard Fish seemed particularly in his element as Toby Belch & was exquisitely directed in the art of audience participation, AKA stealing the audience's drinks. Venetia Maitland stood out as a dynamic & entirely believable Maria & Wil Colman's Malvolio was fantastically awkward. Esther-Grace Button was great fun as the female/male lead, sort-of-opposite Bryony Meredith's authentic and sophisticated Olivia. Meredith very successfully found comedy in unexpected places and proved herself a fun, dynamic performer. Here is one to watch.
Take children (the naughty bits will go over their heads); take people who don't like Shakespeare; take die-hard Bard fans & take your visiting family who don't really speak English. Permanently Bard don't quite offer exquisitely declaimed verse, but I'm quite sure Will would have liked it.
Details of their performances in September and November can be found at http://www.permanentlybard.co.uk/ .