Twelfth Night at Royal Shakespeare Company online
As theatres have been forced to shut during the coronavirus lockdown, stage productions have moved online to continue offering some theatrical magic to stay-at-home audiences. Granted, the energy of a live performance cannot be replicated virtually, but it is still possible to have a perfectly enjoyable theatre evening from home and appreciate the great work of talented artists who deserve to have their space.
There has never been a better time for theatre lovers to catch up on classics, and the first playwright that comes to mind is unarguably Shakespeare. Not only are his plays timeless, but they can be appreciated more with each viewing, since each production highlights a different set of nuances. The Royal Shakespeare Company is currently streaming Christopher Luscombe’s 2017 production of Twelfth Night, performed in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Set in late 19th-century England, this version sees Adrian Edmondson star as Malvolio and Kara Tointon as Olivia. Inspired by Queen Victoria’s special relationship with her attendant Abdul Karim, Luscombe gives twins Viola and Sebastian (played by Dinita Gohil and Esh Alladi respectively) an Indian background. This detail weaves in well with the updated context, but a closer physical resemblance between the siblings would have had a stronger effect when one character is mistaken for the other. Still, the play shines against this new backdrop. Opulent costumes and sets bring to life the Victorian charm loved by so many, and enhance the aesthetic experience, especially important when viewing on a screen.
The infamous story of mistaken identity brims with hilarity and this RSC production makes the most of this aspect. The cast is superb at delivering the humour, but also able to give a glimpse of the underlying pathos behind each character’s tragicomic circumstances. This rendition of Twelfth Night will certainly keep spectators going back for more from the RSC, both online and to their real-life productions when they are back on stage.
Photo: Manuel Harlan © RSC
Twelfth Night is available to view online via Marquee TV from 11th April 2020. For further information or to book visit the RSC’s website here.