Twelfth Night at the Park Theatre
One thing’s for certain, Filter Theatre’s Twelfth Night is soaked in modernism, loud noises, ensemble performances and audience interaction – barely what you might expect when settling in for a Shakespeare play. That, of course, is Filter’s charm.
Directed by Sean Holmes, artistic director of The Lyric Hammersmith, who has helmed a collection of genius and controversial productions in the past year, also directed Filter Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which toured in 2012.
Jonathan Broadbent plays both Duke Orsino and Sir Andrew Aguecheek, with a brilliant onstage presence. He sits and bathes in his audience’s focus and captivates them in their baited silence. Broadbent introduces the play by stumbling over “If music be the food of…” and refuses to continue until the crowd finishes the line. Geoffrey Lumb’s Sir Toby Belch is superb (and hilariously the only one in period dress), portraying the character’s alcohol problem through his physicality. Sandy Foster’s Feste plays well with the pair too, elevating the fool to an intelligent, almost sarcastic stand-up, and it works. Her Maria is also clearly distinguished.
Doubling up the role of Sebastian and Viola, the twins, is an interesting choice. Cleverly, Polly Frame only uses her voice to convey this perfectly. Lizzy Watts’ Olivia needs grounding however: her slight frame requires more energy to support her vocally. Fergus O’Donnell’s Malvolio is nothing but brave and the famous yellow stockings scene is superbly naughty.
The set is littered with wires and instruments, and the ensemble jump into their music making, supporting the action slickly and with sincere panache. Stage manager Jess Gow is present at all times on set, ensuring the needs of the show are met. This is a wonderful celebration of the importance of the people backstage – a lovely touch.
Involving their audience is what the company does best. Their innuendos, their playful pauses, the party scene – the only thing to do is join in. If you want traditional Shakespeare, you will be disappointed, but if you’re open to subjecting your senses to explorative, adventurous, energetic theatre making, this production shouldn’t be missed – and could potentially get you a free shot of tequila if you play your cards right with Sir Toby Belch.
Twelfth Night is at the Park Theatre until 6th October 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.