One of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies. Twelfth Night was ‘blissfully reborn’ (The Daily Telegraph) for the 2012/2013 season at the Globe Theatre, under the direction of Tim Carroll. the hilarious tale of misdirection and deception is performed here by an all-male cast, as it would have been in Shakespeare’s day, with Mark Rylance playing Olivia and Roger Lloyd Pack as the hapless Sir Andrew Aguecheek. The production also marks Stephen Fry’s triumphant return to the stage as the pompous Malvolio, ridiculous in his yellow stockings.
You guys may have seen my post back in February (as well as on Instagram) where I was flailing over ordering a DVD of this play from the 2012/2013 season. I was utterly delighted to be able to get my hands on a DVD that’s region-free and that enables me to watch these productions performed in England. Twelfth Night (review) is one of my favourite Shakespeare plays and Mark Rylance’s performance as Olivia sold me to pick this up (as seen below).
Obviously the following post contains spoilers if you haven’t read/listened/seen the play 😉
Oh my goodness, where does one begin talking about this production? I absolutely loved it from start to finish. I love the play, and revisiting it recently I was surprised by how much funnier it was than I remembered back in high school. But watching this play was an absolute delight, even more hilarious than listening to it! Under Tim Carroll’s direction the actors and set-up of movements and events just injects far more humour into everything. For example, Olivia trying to woo and keep Cesario around, flailing and shrieking and groaning at herself over her faux pas (who would’ve imagined?) brings so much life into a character that’s usually played so regally. Another example that comes to mind is Orsino’s confused feelings and actions around Cesario/Viola. I think I’ve mentioned in my review of the play that Orsino doesn’t get much stage time, really, and his character development less so, but here Liam Brennan brings Orsino to life, from his endless platitudes of love about Olivia to his awkward actions and confused reactions to Cesario (the sequence in…Act II, Scene 3, I believe?…where Feste is singing a song and Cesario and Orsino are listening but also checking each other out; there’s no words to this scene other than Feste’s singing but the actions and reactions were hilarious and amazing to watch). These two examples are especially hilarious because we know that Cesario is really a woman, and the fact that she is played by a man, Johnny Flynn, adds another layer to the situation.
Of course the whole subplot with Malvolio, Sir Toby, Maria, and Sir Andrew was hilariously executed. The sequence with Malvolio finding the letter was a lot of fun to watch, with Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Fabian watching from a moving treehouse box…thing, lol. I don’t think there’s anything else I could add about those sequences as they elicited the same feelings from me as when I revisited the play: amusement, but at the same time sympathy towards Malvolio for being so easily duped and played on his lofty dreams.
The cast is absolutely stellar. As I said Liam Brennan brings much more to the character of Orsino, and his scenes with Johnny Flynn are excellent, the comedic timing on point. Stephen Fry is fantastic as Malvolio, the delivery of his lines excellent and hilarious and filled with the pompousness you would expect from the character. I love Paul Chahidi’s portrayal of Maria: smart, sassy, love his reaction time and his expressions, probably my second favourite performance here after Mark Rylance. Peter Hamilton Dyer was brilliant as Feste, he was on such a roll with his delivery of all of Feste’s witty remarks. Roger Lloyd Pack made Sir Andrew a rather loveable doofus, and Colin Hurley had some comedic moments as Sir Toby. Mark Rylance…what can I say? Loved his portrayal of Olivia, he really brought out a different side to the character; not regal and aloof and distant but more human, with feelings and fumbles and prone perhaps to degrees of madness (her resolution to the fight sequence later in the play was very unexpected, lmao). Even the way he glides into a scene is hilariously awesome…Oh, and random shoutout to James Garnon for his performance as Fabian; the character is tacked on as a third-man to the Sir Toby/Sir Andrew show but I love the way he delivers his lines. I’d love to watch another production with him in a more central role.
Gosh, I could go on and on about every scene in this production, but it’s really something to check out for yourself and experience. I’m so happy they released it on DVD because it really is a pleasure to watch; I reckon I’ll be popping this performance in every so often to re-watch it again 😉 I cannot recommend it enough, you’re in for a good time 🙂
Rating: to infinity
Pick up a copy of the DVD from Presto Classical