Exeter, Devon UK • Jul 14, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Arts & Lit Twelfth Night Review, Bristol Old Vic

Twelfth Night Review, Bristol Old Vic

5 mins read
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In the midst of a party, drunken bohemians decide to put on a spontaneous production of ‘Twelfth Night’. From there, we get the twisted plot of confused identities, unrequited love, and madness that characterises the classic Shakespearean comedy. Although the play dates back to the 17th century, director Wils Wilson’s reimagining is accessible, humorous and, at moments, downright bizarre.

The cast approached the play with great energy and enthusiasm. Jade Ogugua’s Viola was endearing and awkward while Colette Dalal Tchantcho’s Duke Orsino was arrogant but open to change. They delivered a good performance but in the wider context of the play, their scenes felt more like an afterthought. The lovers’ troubles’ were overshadowed by the bawdy humour of Lady Tobi (Dawn Sievewright), Andrew Auguecheek (Guy Hughes), Maria (Joanna Holden) and Feste (Dylan Read) as they plotted against Malvolio (Christopher Green). The four played off each other brilliantly with near perfect comic timing and delivery, utilising both physical and verbal humour. The production truly embraced the comedy of ‘Twelfth Night’ yet this came at the cost of poignancy leaving certain scenes rushed over and underwhelming.

Wils Wilson’s reimagining is accessible, humorous and, at moments, downright bizarre.

While they struggled to handle other emotionally moving elements of the play, the comedic tone was perfectly created. Paired with the actors’ technical skill, the tone was enhanced by the visual elements of the production. Designer Ana Inés Jabares-Pita utilised the psychedelic style of the 1960s to create eye-catching and generally insane costumes, resulting in a colourful mishmash of bright metallics, sequins, feathers, and block heels that only added to the light-hearted atmosphere. A particular highlight was Malvolio’s costume transformation from straight laced to “cross-gartered.” I doubt I will forget a man in a yellow unitard and glittery codpiece thrusting at the audience, no matter how much I might wish otherwise.

At the heart of the performance, however, was the music. Composer Meilyr Jones and musical director Aly Macrae produced a wonderful score that facilitated scene changes and added to the mood. While the majority of the cast also performed musically, Dylan Read proved to be not only a talented actor but also an incredible singer. His performance received a well-deserved round of applause. The music also broke up the performance; by adding emotional depth it prevented the performance from becoming overplayed innuendo.

utilised the psychedelic style of the 1960s to create eye-catching and generally insane costumes

While there were moments of depth, these were too infrequent to balance against the comedy leading to some underwhelming scenes. However, the comedic performances were executed masterfully which, alongside the high production value, created an enjoyable and entertaining piece.

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