Twelfth Night at the Young Vic
If music be the food of love, then the Young Vic’s musical adaptation of Twelfth Night is a sumptuous feast. Set in the run up to Notting Hill Carnival, it champions community and relishes its themes of gender swapping and the liberation of disguise. It is frivolous and farcical, and consistently soul lifting.
Robert Jones’s set is just gorgeous. Streets slide away to an exaggerated vanishing point, bunting and fairy lights criss-cross the sky and colourful house fronts bear windows of fleeting silhouettes.
The show uses a community chorus of 30 non-professionals from the neighbourhood and the result is a high-energy ensemble made up of people who look like they’re having the time of their lives.
Shaina Taub’s score is full of hummable songs, spot-on lyrics and contemporary humour while Lizzi Gee’s dance sequences are a treat. Some standout moments include each time that a chorus of sequined sirens sashay onto the stage at intervals to recap the “word on the street”; protagonist Viola’s song about disguise, which features a posse of dancers in hoodies with bright linings; ambitious Malvolio’s flamboyant tap dance number. Wielding brass band big-heartedness, R’n’B punchiness and the seduction of jazz, Twelfth Night is a fittingly eclectic and uplifting musical adaptation. The story line is crystal clear despite the many twists and turns and, although Shakespeare’s text has been extensively cut, the show retains enough of the lyrical language to ensure viewers never forget this is the Bard’s work.
Gabrielle Brooks is a winsome Viola, her singing voice just the right combination of sweetness and vibrato. Jyuddah Jaymes as her twin Sebastian is also wonderful to listen to. Gerard Carey’s Malvolio might be the show stealer. Proud and indignant, like Cogsworth the carriage clock from Beauty and the Beast, he’s the source of the lion’s share of the comedy. A particularly wonderful moment sees him deliver a letter while riding haughtily on a segway.
Twelfth Night marks the start of Kwame Kwei-Armah and Despina Tsatsas’s first season together at the Young Vic, and what an optimistic, generous way to begin.
Photo: Johan Persson
Twelfth Night is at the Young Vic from 2nd October until 17th November 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.