BWW Review: TWELFTH NIGHT, Jack Studio Theatre
In the right month, but a few days late, Twelfth Night turns up at the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, the Yard Players our company. As ever, Shakey's cross-dressing comedy spiced with cruelty amuses with its madcap mayhem and delights with its beauteous language.
There's Viola (girl) pretending to be Cesario (boy) who thinks her twin, Sebastian, is drowned (as he does her). Cesario is sent off to woo the reclusive Olivia for Duke Orsini, but she ends up falling for Cesario instead, who (because he's really Viola) has fallen for the Duke. Meanwhile, terribly boozy Sir Toby Belch and his sidekick, Sir Andrew Aguecheek (where does he get these names?) have teamed up with maid Maria to exact revenge on Olivia's prissy steward Malvolio, tricking him into believing he has a chance with the wealthy woman. Cue the yellow cross garters.
If that sounds like the plot of a Carry On, it's because it pretty much is the plot of a Carry On, English comedy retaining many of its obsessions down the centuries. You can cast Terry Scott, Joan Sims and Barbara Windsor into the roles yourself!
In this production, Candice Price plays Olivia northern, Pete Picton has pockets aplenty for Sir Toby Belch's bottles and Jessica Kinsey gives us an anxious Viola / Cesario. Daniel Chrisostomou is the pick of the ensemble, investing much pathos into his Malvolio, whose punishment is so great in comparison to his "crime" that you rather hope the revenge he swears is swift and commensurate.
There are mobile phones to hand and lanyards worn by everyone (I wasn't sure why - maybe a commentary on how identities these days are fixed by authorities rather than clothes and plotted deception). Across the whole show, I wasn't quite sure of director, James Eley's, take on the play and where those 21st century elements fitted in, but he keeps the pace high throughout, critical for a comedy.
If the pace is high, the price is low, so (as is often the case at this venue) it's a good introduction for anyone aged 10 to 100 looking for a start on Shakey's works - they'll see a serviceable if not stunning production. And they'll be back for more.
Photo Yard Players