Shakespeare In A Week: Twelfth Night ★★★★☆

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The concept; to bring a Shakespeare play to life with only a week of rehearsals. The play; Twelfth Night, one of Shakespeare’s comedies. The result; a highly entertaining hour of fun.

Attending the preview performance the night before these brave souls performed their piece four times in one day, I got to see the first night nerves, the mishaps, the one time someone seemed to forget their line, and the laughter. The thing about this play is that even when things went wrong, the actors managed to pull it back. They kept going and if they did break character to laugh, it was with the audience, which I found endearing.

From the outset you’ll be integrated with the cast. That guy you saw who’s wearing (enter costume spoiler here) will turn out to be Duke Orsino, or the girl wearing the Shakespeare in a Week t-shirt will turn out to be more than just a stage hand. This is one of the best parts of the play. You get to meet and mingle with everyone first, they make sure there’ll be no awkward moments between you and that girl who you accidentally bump into when moving around the crowd to get a better view of Viola.

The play starts from here too. Taken to the performance area by humming, something I’ve never come across before, the cast make themselves known to you by bursting into song when you’ve reached your destination. Not in a cheesy way I’d say, but in a good, light-hearted way. It makes you laugh and yet listen – you’ll find yourself humming on your way home. An interactive play, some of the audience will be used as props; you’ll be hidden behind, run past, run through, and all the while you’ll be laughing.

Viola (Carly Brown) and Olivia (Anita Thomson)’s scenes are the best of the play in my opinion, which is saying a lot for these two actors as the entire play is really, really good. Anita manages to pull off the ‘woe is me’ damsel in love brilliantly, you’ll be able to understand Olivia’s pain, and at the same time have a sense of nostalgia as you remember conversations with your friends when you were 13 about (enter love interest here).

Of course, the actors could have been sensational, but it would not have meant anything without the direction of Lydia Longman, and help of Sarah Divall. These two need a mention especially as, whilst watching the audience’s reactions, they were nail-biting in the corner, worrying over every detail it seemed. Every up and down of the performance, Lydia seemed to be enjoying her role as a stander by and as the ultimate leader of this play. Credit is needed where credit’s due, so hat’s off to Lydia.

It was brilliant to see Shakespeare enjoyed by everyone there. Every line meant something, even if you’re not a fan of Shakespearean language, I think you’d enjoy this. If you get lost, the cast will pull you back with a little modern twist, and if you thought you didn’t like plays or standing for an hour? Think again. This is different. Personally, I can’t wait until the next in a week performance.

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