Review: Twelfth Night

4 star rating
Shakespeare's comedy gets a pared-back reworking that nonetheless maintains the essentials of the original story and delivers the goods in exactly the right spirit.
Twelfth Night at The Scoop

Image courtesy Gods and Monsters Theatre


Theatre: The Scoop

Closes here: Sunday 1 September 2019

Author:
William Shakespeare

Director:
Rae Mcken

Cast:

Tim Bowie - Orsino

George Caporn - Sebastian

Melanie Gleeson - Viola

Acushla-Tara Kupe - Feste

Feyesa Wakjira - Sir Andrew

Veronica Beatrice Lewis - Maria

Heidi Lynch - Olivia

Stephanie MacGaraidh - Antonia/ Priest

Lorenzo Martelli - Sir Toby

Itoya Osagiede - Malvolio/ Sea Captain


Synopsis


'I am all the daughters of my father's house,

And all the brothers too.'


Experience Shakespeare's famous tale of unrequited love in all its hilarious and heartbreaking splendour, entirely for free.


Separated from her twin Sebastian in a shipwreck, Viola must fend for herself in a strange land.


Havoc ensues through mistaken identity and heartache as Viola falls in love with Orsino, who dotes on Olivia, who falls for Viola but is idolised by Malvolio ...


Background


Post Show Talks: discussions with the  team behind this year's season of free

theatre. Sunday 11, 18 and 25 August 19:45 - 20:30.


ActDrop reviews


Peter Brown

Performance date: Thursday 15 August 2019
Review star rating image

Twelfth Night is currently playing as part of London's Free Open Air Theatre Season at The Scoop, at More London.


The other show in the season is The Sea Queen.


Both shows play until 1 September with The Sea Queen starting at 6pm (Wednesday to Saturday) and 4pm on Sundays.


Twelfth Night can be seen at 8pm (Wednesdays to Saturdays) and at 6pm on Sundays.


If you're unfamiliar with The Scoop, it's an amphitheatre just alongside the banks of the Thames and nestled on the outskirts of a substantial complex of offices and shops, near to London Bridge station.


This is the sixteenth year of this rather magical open air theatre concept.


The big draw, of course, is that it is completely free which certainly encourages those who have never been to the theatre before to take the plunge and watch a show.


And, since no booking is required, you can just turn up on your own or with family and friends, take a seat, sit back and watch.


Every time I head to The Scoop, I find families busily guzzling picnic food they've brought along, which adds to the nature of the event, but doesn't seem to interfere with the enjoyment of the shows, which are watched intently by everyone in the audience.


The Scoop itself is an amphitheatre made of large blocks of stone that provide spacious seating, with ample space for people to move along the rows to take their seats.


Since this is open air theatre, the vagaries of the weather need to be taken into account, and the busy location (a very popular tourist thoroughfare) does mean there are times when extraneous sounds impinge a little during shows.


But with the actors adorned with radio microphones, and the venue sunk below the main level of the surrounding pavements, audibility is mostly not a particular issue.


(Note: since we list the two shows in this season separately, we've included the information above in both our reviews).


Shakespeare's Twelfth Night gets something of a remake here in a cut-down version that nonetheless maintains the essentials of the original story.


This production is the longer of the two shows on offer at this year's Free Open Air Theatre Season and, for my taste at least, is the stronger of the two with much more meat for the actors and creative team to sink their teeth into - though that doesn't negate the value of The Sea Queen which certainly has its own virtues.


Twelfth Night is one of those plays that almost begs to be performed during the summer months and so it frequently is.


The story is relatively straight-forward enabling younger audience members to comprehend it, and the characters provide plenty of fun even if the plot has a darker side embodied in the dire treatment of steward Malvolio.


Washed-up on the shores of Illyria after being shipwrecked, Viola opts to disguise herself as a man and serve the local lord Duke Orsino, who is madly in love with Olivia.


The latter, however, is in mourning for her deceased brother and has already spurned Orsino's advances.


Viola (now Cesario) is sent on the mission to seduce Olivia on Orsino's behalf, but she falls for Cesario instead.

Veronica Beatrice Lewis, Feyesa Wakjira and Lorenzo Martelli in Twelfth Night at The Scoop

(From left) Veronica Beatrice Lewis, Feyesa Wakjira and Lorenzo Martelli

photo by Liz Isles


Meanwhile in Olivia's household, her wayward, carousing cousin Toby Belch and his side-kick Andrew Aguecheek are causing mayhem and irritating the prim and proper Malvolio - Olivia's steward.


Along with maid Maria, Belch and Aguecheek conspire to ridicule and belittle Malvolio - wherein lies much of the play's humour.


Twelfth Night sees Shakespeare tackling one of his obsessions - twins - allowing for mistaken identity to give a final twist to the story.


The same cast are back in action here following a brief rest after The Sea Queen.


This time, it's Heidi Lynch's turn to wear the stunning frock - a black number suitable for Olivia's initial scenes where she's still in mourning.


Later on, she gets to wear something a little more jolly once love starts to interfere with her mood.

Itoya Osagiede as Malvolio in Twelfth Night at The Scoop

Itoya Osagiede as Malvolio - photo by Liz Isles


Itoya Osagiede's Malvolio, on the other hand, is dressed entirely in white - except for the scene where he slips into cross-garters to impress Olivia.


And Mr Osagiede is indeed impressive both in his humorous description of the steward and his well-contrived, convivial interactions with the audience.


Sporting a rather exuberant pink suit, Feyesa Wakjira gets one of the plumb roles playing Andre Aguecheek and takes full advantage of it.


He's well-supported by a devilish Veronica Beatrice Lewis as Maria and by Lorenzo Martelli as the drunken lecher Toby Belch in their conspiratorial trio.


As with The Sea Queen, this pruned version of Shakespeare's much-loved comedy also has some limp staging at times, but overall it delivers the goods in exactly the right humorous spirit.



ActDrop listing for The Scoop
Our show listing for Twelfth Night
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