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BWW Review: TWELFTH NIGHT, Shakespeare's Globe

The Globe's new staging radiates joy and mischief

BWW Review: TWELFTH NIGHT, Shakespeare's Globe

BWW Review: TWELFTH NIGHT, Shakespeare's Globe The Globe's Artistic Director Michelle Terry has not had the easiest start to her tenure. Until a few weeks ago, she had not put on a live show since last March. Happily, with the summer season now in full swing, she now stars in the theatre's joyful new production of Twelfth Night.

Shakespeare's fast-paced romantic comedy combines sexual politics, practical jokes and mistaken identities. Viola arrives in Illyria, separated from her twin brother Sebastian in a shipwreck. To become a servant to the Duke Orsino, she disguises herself as a boy, calling herself Cesario. The Duke sends her to woo the Countess Olivia on his behalf, but the Countess falls in love with Cesario. Eventually Viola is reunited with Sebastian, leading to even more comedic confusion.

With a cast constantly refreshing themselves from a case of beer cans at the side of the stage and a musical medley featuring Tina Turner and Cher, Sean Holmes directs a lively and very funny production. Among a very strong cast, Michelle Terry's Viola is quick-witted and embraces the simpler aspects of her character. Terry is engaging and practical, but also shows a slightly nervous side, which is charming.

George Fouracres and Nadine Higgin steal the show playing a camp, Brummie Augecheek and wonderfully sozzled Sir Toby Belch respectively. Fouracres bursts onto the stage singing and high-kicking to Italian folk songs, resplendent in pink trousers and mint green jacket. Higgin completely embraces the sybaritic and outrageous behaviour of Sir Toby. She is a mischievous rogue and is truly hilarious as the constantly drunken uncle.

Ciarán O'Brien give Sebastian a very funny, affected manner; simpering and fey. As Feste, Victoria Elliott makes the role rich and interesting with her excellent comic timing and stage presence. Bryan Dick's Orsino lacks some of the necessary melancholy of the character and Shona Babayemi's authorative projection is occasionally lost, but overall the cast carry the story with an almost raucous energy.

The production looks great. Jean Chan's charming design shows Illyria as a beaten-up and dusty version of vintage America. Abandoned carousel rides combine with broken-down corrugated iron panels and abandoned drag racing cars all add to the atmosphere, although a deer carcass swinging from the rafters is a little distracting.

Sydney Florence's inventive costumes play with the themes of identity and gender. Feste appears in a sparkly cabaret-style dress and smoothly abandons a huge blond wig for a baseball outfit. Viola and Sebastian are the only characters to wear exaggerated Elizabethan-style outfits, but also showcase some eye-catching metallic pixie boots. Malvolio's yellow stockings and cross garters become a fabulous, skin-tight yellow bodysuit, with black sequinned crosses.

The Globe's famous £5 Groundling tickets are now back on sale, so everyone has the opportunity to see this loud and occasionally unruly production, bursting with wit and fun.

Twelfth Night is at Shakespeare's Globe until 30 October

Photo Credit: Marc Brenner

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