British Black and Asian Shakespeare Performance Database
Twelfth Night (1992): Past Imperfect, The Drill Hall (now RADA Studios)
PrTwelfth Night (1992)
CAST INCLUDED: Marva Alexander (Maria); David Annen (Orsino); Philip Catto (Sir Andrew Aguecheek); Susan Cole (Viola); Kenneth Guy (Sir Toby Belch); Francis Jack (Feste).
This production ran from 14 - 31 October 1992, according to the advertising leaflet held at the V&A Theatre and Performance archive. Other production information taken from two reviews, none of which contain the complete cast. Other casting information comes from Yolande Bastide's biography in the Contact Theatre, Manchester programme for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in 1994. David Baker's biography in the Hamlet programme also mentions this production, but without reference to a role.
"Resembling one of the five guys named Moe, Sir Toby is a cool black dude sporting jazzy clothes and whistle. Maria, a black actress in a sunny dress, is a bundle of flirtatious energy. Both wanna party (they get their chance in a decidedly non-rained-out carnival finale). Stemming from Past Imperfect's commitment to accessibility, this Twelfth Night - on a split-level scaffold set ideal for school assembly halls - is vivid and robust. It's plus points are speed, humour and clarity: the percussion that lends momentum to Viola's ring soliloquy; the laddish guffaws of Orsino's court at her spirited ripostes, and, during the box-tree scene, an imaginative 'freeze' of characters not directly involved that keeps all the plot strands present. Elsewhere, particularly after the interval, it's too get-up-and-go, too wide-awake, and we begin to yearn for the play's melancholia and the languid enchantment of Illyria. The ensemble approach, although affording friendly group musicianship, tends to detract from the confusions in the love plot. The relevance of Feste (here a lack-lustre peacenik)'s insights is lost, as that of a squirtish, half-masked boggy Malvolio's puritanism to his ultimate fate. And anyone expecting a Drill Hall-style exploration of sexual identity will be disappointed. Only half the play Shakespeare wrote, but a vigorous, enjoyable half nonetheless." ~ Keith Stanfield, City Limits, 21 October 1992
"This bouncy production from Past Imperfect TC clearly hits the spot with the youth audience for whom it was intended. Brutish and unfocused it may be, but the action fairly rattles along and there's enough freshness and zest here to perk up a sleeping policeman. David Annen's fitness-freak Orsino pants out his famous opening speech in the middle of a vigorous set of sit-ups; Kenneth Guy's Sir Toby Belch is a randy Caribbean wide-boy in a tomato-coloured suit, spouting breezy Shakespearean jive in the rare moments when he's not trying to mount Marva Alexander's sassy little Maria; Philip Catto's handsome Aguecheek resembles a knock-kneed marionette in brash yellow plaid; and Francis Jack's sour-faced Feste is a hippy busker gazing grimly at the world through a pair of rose-tinted spectacles a la Janis Joplin. Only Malvolio, bizarrely portrayed as a tubby little schoolboy in a papier-mache mask, doesn't come off, and the brain-dead crassness of this miscasting strikes a killer blow against the play's comic potential. Fortunately the Cesario/Sebastian mix-up emerges from the chaos with special clarity and poignancy, intelligently booksted by a vivid mime of the shipwreck that has separated them. After this, Susan Cole's delightful Viola potters around the stage looking as stiff, chirpy and pathetic as a frozen sparrow, while Matthew Sim portrays her twin brother as a fiesty little bisexual with a taste for strapping sailors. Poor old Olivia; looks like marriage-guidnace counsellors all round." ~ Michael Wright, Time Out, 28 October 1992
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