British Black and Asian Shakespeare Performance Database
Twelfth Night (1988): Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
PrTwelfth Night (1988)
PRINCIPAL CAST: Harriet Bagnell (Olivia); Trevor Cooper (Sir Toby Belch); Derek Griffiths (Feste); Ian Hastings (Sir Andrew Aguecheek); Tim McInnerny (Orsino); Nimmy March (Maria); Saskia Reeves (Viola); Gary Waldhorn (Malvolio).
This production ran from 12 May - 25 June 1988.
"It starts extremely effectively: various seafarers blown in from an advertisement for Fisherman's Friend lozenges surface through a billowing green shroud. Clearly we are witnessing a storm of a type even P&O might think twice about defying. Such, in fact, is its ferocity that Viola (Saskia Reeves), broad of hip and torn of bodice, is hurled not on to the sea shore but directly on to the warehouse floor of Carpet Kingdom (Illyria) Ltd. The Illyrians, being a technically advanced and moderately aesthetic race, like their carpets to be convex in form and fluffed up here and there in decorative whorls. When the sales team approach, in the guise of Austro-Hungarian stationmasters, Ms Reeves, who has now acquired a white silk double breasted suit, falls in love with the tall thin one. This is presumably because brown jackboots and convex carpentry do not go well together. Johanna Bryant's design is innovative and intriguing and ultimately one restraint on a Royal Exchange production that rarely equals the sum of its parts....The collective subsconsious of the audience is obliged to wonder what Ms Bryant, as opposed to Mr Shakespeare, is getting at. Is this luxury, asteroid, or even snow? Will Malvolio (Gary Waldhorn) enter on skis? Mr Waldhorn does not, but he might well have done, such is the flamboyance of Braham Murray's direction. Sir Andrew (Ian Hastings) and Sir Toby (Trevor Cooper) are helicoptered in on beer barrels. Later they link up with Feste (Derek Griffiths) in a traditional Illyrian samba routine. The two old codgers' clothes are a cunning combination of 15th and 20th centuries. Well and good; but this sort of bravura conceptualising blurs rather than sharpens the spectator's mind when the play at the heart of things is not quite right. Toby Belch is a waddling, shouting but not yet likeable buffoon. Malvolio is heavy-lidded and humourous, and a degree too hammy. Feste seems to know too much and Orsino (Tim McInnerny) perhaps too little." ~ Erlend Clouston, "Manchester: Twelfth Night", The Guardian, 16 May 1988
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