Reviewed by Gina Reedy
An unforgettable night of Americana music, laugh out loud comedy and a love triangle –return to theatre in style with the romantic comedy, Twelfth Night at The Globe, London.
This production of Twelfth Night is fast-paced. From the entrance of the Fool, at the start, in high heels, contemporary party dress and singing in an Americana style, supported by the live musicians, it was apparent this was not going to be your run of the mill play. The cast brought a present day and witty performance to the production. The story has several overlapping plots of romance, mistaken identities and practical jokes. There is a mixture of subtle and not so subtle humour- I found myself laughing out loud at many of the physical, as well as verbal jokes.
As the plot unfolded we saw Viola, separated from her twin brother Sebastian in a shipwreck, disguise herself as a boy, call herself Cesario, and become a servant to the Duke Orsino. Orsino sends Viola to woo the Countess Olivia on his behalf, but the Countess falls in love with Cesario. The contrast between The pace and energy of the dance and interspersed songs allowed for spontaneous involvement by the audience.
Viola’s more traditional costume versus the cowboy blacks of Count Orsino added to the sense of the traditional play treated in a modern way. This was emphasised by the stage scenery of Neon signs and broken down car and the choreography of the dance and interspersed, joyful songs allowing for spontaneous involvement by the audience.
The subplot characters were especially entertaining- particularly the singing between Olivia’s drunken uncle, Sir Toby Belch, and his friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek and the trick they play on Malvolio, Olivia’s steward. This was a stand out for me- the straight playing character of Malvolio versus the liberal Sir Toby Belch and the audience enjoyment was palpable.
Eventually Viola’s brother, Sebastian turns up and causes even more confusion, chaos and comedy.
Returning to the theatre was always going to be an interesting experience after lockdown, but what better way to return, than to see Shakespeare performed in the “Wooden O” that is the Globe Theatre, an iconic setting across the Thames from St Paul’s Cathedral? Getting there was an enjoyable walk from London Bridge station; through Borough Markets; past the Golden Hinde and along the South Bank to the entrance.
On arrival, the sense of history and the significance of seeing a Shakesperean play at this unique venue is reinforced by the knowledge that the first Globe Theatre originally opened in 1599, being built by the company that Shakespeare part-owned. The attention to detail in the building and staying true to the traditional layout is carefully balanced with all the facilities one would expect from a modern theatre space.
On entering the staff are very welcoming and all social distancing directions are easy to follow. In the foyer area there is the opportunity to buy a wide range of gifts; clothing and replica theatre props at the Shakespeare themed shop; a delicious range of food and drinks are available in the outdoor Piazza, facing the Thames, before entering the Theatre true.
Tickets can be bought in advance or in the entrance foyer on the day (numbers permitting) and for this summer season the Groundlings (standing in the open air Yard) £5.00 tickets have returned. This means that no one has to miss out on seeing this truly memorable performance of Twelfth Night. The other seating is in the three galleries, on bench seats, as the performance is without intervals, I would recommend bringing cushions- we did. As the whole theatre is open air and the seating is currently socially distanced it felt like an excellent way to see theatre again.
Anyone who thinks Shakespeare is for the 16th Century needs to see and feel the sheer delight that is this particular production of Twelfth Night. I have recommended it, without hesitation, to my family and friends.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Tickets from £5.00 to £59.00 (plus £2.50 booking fee)
Twelfth Night is at The Globe until 30 October 2021
For more information and to make a booking tickets can be bought from: https://www.shakespearesglobe.com/whats-on/twelfth-night-2021/#book
Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London, SE1 9DT.