Party on Twelfth Night

The stage is set up as if we were about to witness a gig.  The house lights stay on for the whole performance.  A reimagined Twelfth Night?  Or possibly one that is truer to the original?  The traditions of Twelfth Night revolve around role reversal, eating, drinking and music, and these form the backbone of this production.  Stripped back to the central storyline, and with a much stronger emphasis on the celebration, this production puts music at the forefront, with the actors playing instruments that occupy most of the stage.

Dan Poole (Toby Belch) and Amy Marchant (Viola) in Filter Theatre's Twelfth Night - photo Mark Garvin

With any adaptation, the first question is whether it works if you don’t know the original.  In this case, it’s a definite yes.  The central plot arc is  clear, heavily distilled.  Viola dresses as a man to enter the service of Duke Orsino and is sent to deliver his messages of love to Olivia.  Olivia instead falls for Viola, in her male guise.  In turn Viola falls for Orsino.  But the other story that this production really brings to the fore is the drunkenness and mischief whereby Malvolio is tricked into believing that Olivia loves him.  Backed by some really quite amazing music, clever effects, and party games, the chaos and confusion of Twelfth Night drives this performance.  At times very funny, at others very silly, this production has such energy and life.

But the production sits in a difficult place.  We are meant to be a part of the setting, but it takes too long to enter the world that Filter Theatre set up.  We are half way between being in it, and watching it.  And this is I think a fault of the initial set up of the play; the invitation to become part of it isn’t sufficiently clear.  It takes twenty minutes to work out exactly what this is.  So, better to know beforehand that you’re joining a party.

The production is very much in the raw spirit of the play.  Full of humour, energy and good music, this is a Shakespeare production where you can feel part of the party.

Photo – Dan Poole (Toby Belch) and Amy Marchant (Viola) in Filter Theatre’s Twelfth Night – photo Mark Garvin

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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