Twelfth Night at Shakespeare’s Globe
Originally poised to grace the stage in 2020, the rescheduled production of Twelfth Night, directed by Sean Holmes, makes a welcome return to the theatre in this bright and witty production the whole family can enjoy.
While it may not be one of his most popular Shakespeare productions, Twelfth Night contains all of the elements that have become synonymous with his greats: mistaken identity, trickery, romance, and fools abound. Therefore, it’s clear that the audience are going to be in for a treat as they take a seat in the iconic open-air theatre. However, the skilful direction and complete mastery of the language from the entire ensemble gives the production a unique, contemporary edge.
The strength of the Globe’s Twelfth Night lies in its casting, which sees Olivier-award winning Michelle Terry in the role of shipwrecked aristocrat Viola, taking on the disguise of Cesario to protect herself as she lands on the shore of Illyria. Here, she comes across all manner of nobility and inadvertently entangles herself in romance and drama. However, while the entire cast are phenomenal, Nadine Higgin steals the show with her energetic and faultless portrayal of the often drunk Sir Toby Belch, bringing a unique gravitas to the character. Such a portrayal is even more exciting when one considers that Higgin is the first female ever to play this role, and she makes it her own in doing so. The actress is nicely partnered by George Fouracres as the misguided yet hilarious Aguecheek.
In this production, Illyria is translated to the stage through a combination of unusual props: a giant model tiger, a jukebox, a deer carcass, and a sign that looks as though it was taken straight from a Vegas casino. While this creates an interesting aesthetic, it seems to have little relevance to what is actually happening on the stage. However, it is complicated nicely by the costuming, wherein each character’s ensemble seems to have been taken from a different era.
In short, Twelfth Night is an example of Shakespeare done right, bridging the gap between the historic texts and modern audiences through witty performances, live music, and even a little dancing. For fans of the Bard or not, it’s definitely worth a watch.
Photos: Marc Brenner
Twelfth Night is at Shakespeare’s Globe from 9th August until 30th October 2021. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.