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BWW Review: TWELFTH NIGHT, Oasis Farm

Raucous version of madcap comedy that wins you over with its energy and warmth

BWW Review: TWELFTH NIGHT, Oasis Farm BWW Review: TWELFTH NIGHT, Oasis Farm If the Handlebards (geddit?) ride into town any time soon to peddle their brand of pedal-powered plays, be prepared for a Shakespearean peloton like you've never seen before. Of course there's a serious intention behind biking round Britain (and beyond) barking out the Bard, but the attitude carries over to the production, a helter-skelter make-do-and-mend of multi-tasking, audience participation and costumes not just defining a character, but often becoming the character. The spirit of Shakey's own Globe (once just a ten minute ride from where I saw this show) is alive and well, 400 years on.

Four actors play all the roles. Roisin Brehony has a lot of fun with Sir Toby Belch, Eddie Mann provides much of the music, Brontë Tadman is uncannily reminiscent of Blackadder's paramour "Bob" when passing (badly) for a man and George Attwell Gerhards is all Rees-Moggish as the put-upon Malvolio. But the strength of the show is in the ensemble work - the actors so enjoy each others' company that you can't help but join in the cynicism-free tomfoolery.

I was often reminded of the "Carry On" movies at their best. A porous fourth wall, performers who could play off each other and ad lib freely, bawdy but not blue, and terribly, terribly British. If every laugh doesn't land, no worries, there's another one just round the corner.

Though it was lovely to see the show at a working farm in Central London, as is often the case in such venues, the acoustics were unforgiving and I can't have been alone in wishing that the words (the glorious words) were spoken that little more slowly so as not to lose some in the echoes off the hard surfaces all around us.

That said, this is not a show that aims to present a definitive version of the cross-dressing comedy of twins lost and found, but an exhilarating collective ride, rather like descending on a bike into the Vale of Evesham en route to Stratford Upon Avon. So ride safe Handlebards and see you again soon.

Twelfth Night is on tour

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From This Author - Gary Naylor