This joyous and lively production, starring Tamsin Greig, is one of the best versions of Shakespeare’s comedy I’ve ever seen.
Confession time: I have never been a huge fan of Twelfth Night – in part probably as I have never seen a production that I have been a fan of – not least a disastrous rock and roll version that really didn’t work. But also due to the pacing and overly long scenes that could have been sharpened up.
However, this 2017 production directed by Simon Godwin may have altered my viewpoint. Throughout this lively, sharply paced production, the comedy seems heightened and easier to enjoy than the previous productions that I have seen.
Thanks to brilliant characterisations from the cast, all the way through to Soutra Gilmour’s gloriously imaginative and rich designs, Twelfth Night almost seems to have a new life about it that sweeps the audience completely and effortlessly into the chaos. This is helped by gender-swapping some of the characters to really good effect – not least Tamsin Greig’s hilarious turn as Malovlia, whose comical expressions and the way in which she uses the audience to great effect is a joy to watch – even if her character is rather pompous and figure of fun.
Elsewhere, other enjoyable performances come from Tim McMullan’s booze-filled and hilarious Sir Toby, Daniel Rigby’s over the top and sensitive Sir Andrew, Tamara Lawrence’s passionate Viola and Oliver Chris’s playboy version of Orsino.
The great thing about this production is the way in which it draws out even more comedy – with the comical scene of Malvolia in yellow stockings heightened even further being just one example. You really sit up and pay attention to the language with the conflict of what is happening in front of your eyes.
It is a production that is riotous fun from start to finish and from a personal side has allowed me to understand better why it is such a great comedy. This production’s cast is a joy to watch from start to finish.
By Emma Clarendon
Twelfth Night is available to watch through the National Theatre’s Youtube channel until the 30th April.