This lively and entertaining online production allows the audience to really feel part of the show and connect with each other.
Having last seen this particular production of Twelfth Night at the Rose Theatre in London last year, I was immensely curious to see how they could reimagine it for an audience on Zoom and still be as entertaining. Thankfully, it has managed to maintain its playfulness and imaginative elements that keep the audience thoroughly engaged.
Set on the luxurious cruise liner SS Illyria, Shakespeare’s comedy of mixed up identities is hilariously transported to the era of the Roaring Twenties, complete with a modern soundtrack that has a twenties twist.
Directed by Adam Nichols, it is clear that plenty of thought has gone into recreating this production in a new way – particularly given that the story has been condensed down into an hour and a half of mischievous fun with a couple of audience interaction elements that are really lovely. This production has managed to retain the spirit of the play and the characters but in a refreshingly unique way that is enjoyable from start to finish.
To enhance the abridged version of the story, a very contemporary soundtrack with a jazz twist is used – with songs by the likes of Katy Perry and Britney Spears cleverly used to highlight certain parts of the story. There are some moments in which it feels as though the use of music threatens to overpower the plot slightly – but the musicians perform it with great energy that it is impossibly not to tap your feet along.
Elsewhere, there are some other fabulous elements about this production. This includes scenic designs of the interior of the ship by Lotte Brockbank and Emma Wright that really enhance the story and frame the characters nicely throughout and the way in which the fight scenes were choreographed – providing quite a few laughs as seen in Antonio and Fabian’s fight scene. Meanwhile, the graphic designs also enhances the 1920’s film style that runs through the production.
But it is also lovely the way in which Adam Nichols has managed to create a production that the audience feel involved with, adding a couple of moments in which the audience can see each other and become involved, reminding us all that even now theatre can be a wonderful bonding experience.
The characterisations are all wonderfully flamboyant and over the top, embracing the increasing silliness of the play. In particular, Faith Turner is wonderfully snooty and comical as Malvolia, with her mannerisms and attitude really spot on for the character. Flora Squires as as Viola is wonderful to watch as the chaos starts to unfold and Will Pattle as Fabian effectively holds the show together.
Overall, this is an immensely enjoyable way to enjoy Twelfth Night, adding a sense of intimacy to the play that makes it even more entertaining.
By Emma Clarendon
Twelfth Night is being streamed live on the 19th and 26th June as well as the 3rd and 10th July. For more information visit: http://maltingstheatre.co.uk/twelfthnight