Twelfth Night (2008): New Shakespeare Company, Open Air Theatre, London

PrTwelfth Night (

Location: Open Air Theatre, London
Live Performance

CAST INCLUDED: Claire Benedict (Maria); Janie Dee (Olivia); Natalie Dew (Viola); Clive Hayward (Sir Andrew Aguecheek); Richard O'Callaghan (Malvolio); Oscar Pearce (Orsino); Clive Rowe (Feste); Tim Woodward (Sir Toby Belch).

This production ran from 13 June - 30 July 2008. Production information from Theatre Record; may be incomplete.

"Edward Dick's intensely enjoyable production is acted on the same circular stage and against the same crumbling brick walls as the Romeo and Juliet that opened this year's season at Regent's Park earlier in the week....This Twelfth Night opens with Oscar Pearce's Orsino not simply lovesick but hysterical at his constant rejection by the grieving Olivia. He sags across the stage, drooping on the shoulders of his courtiers - and, though in the course of the play this behaviour makes one suspect the future success of a marriage he might make to anyone (even Natalie Dew's sturdy Viola)...Much use is also made of Dominic Muldowney's music, drifting in when love is discussed or demonstrated. The exquisite songs he has written for Clive Rowe's Feste - Come Away, Death and The Wind and The Rain - and most delicately sung by him, are both wistful and offer the suggestion that this wistfulness goes a wee bit far, don't you think. Janie Dee offers a more mature Olivia than is usual, casting an interesting gloss on her infatuation with an evidently adolescent Viola, especially as Dew is uncommonly convincing as a boy, even cheekily smoking a cigarette while courting, which possibly goes too far."  ~ Jeremy Kingston, The Times, 16 June 2008

"Edward Dick's revival features many of the same actors who appear in Romeo and Juliet, but while they were lacklustre in the other, they are more than adequate here. Perhaps the presence of Janie Dee as a melt-in-the-mouth Olivia and Clive Rowe as an insanely sweet-throated clown, Feste, makes everyone else raise their game, because while this is a long way from capturing the bitter sweet heart of this melancholy comedy, it will wash down very nicely with a glass of wine. Dick's production is clear, unfussy, has a pleasing fluidity and often places the actors to draw attention to the emotional space between them....Claire Benedict's no-nonsense Maria clearly has her eye on Sir Toby from the outset...But the star here besides Fotini Dimou's 1930s costumes is Dee..."  ~ Lyn Gardner, The Guardian, 18 June 2008

"The loose Jazz Age setting is pretty but jokes are thrown recklessly away and depths remain resolutely unexplored....Feste's melancholy closing song about daily rain is cleverly turned into a dance at the wedding ball of the two couples, with candles flickering atmospherically in niches in the back wall. That backdrop, of a decayed Renaissance palazzo facade, might be fine for candles but it's no use for the crucial first scene, in which the shipwrecked Viola decides to disguise herself as a man until she can find her beloved twin brother. The import of her transformation is thus lost on us, a fact with which Natalie Dew's Viola struggles constantly....Clive Rowe's Feste is a grandstanding, sweet-voiced delight, whose suitcase of jester's tricks comes complete with a cocktail cabinet. Together with Belch...and loveable silly ass Aguecheek...Rowe makes a whole lot of merry before Richard O'Callaghan's perfectly peevish Malvolio arrives to put a stop to all such cakes and ale-related frivolities."  ~ Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard, 16 June 2008, in Theatre Record 2008, Issue 12

"Natalie Dew's Viola is feisty, champagne swigging, cigar-smoking fare, in the vaguely Mafioso court of Oscar Pearce's melodramatic Orsino. But the comic characters are steadfast in their refusal to come to life. Clive Rowe is most effective as the manic, Marx Brothers-inspired Feste, with enormous hair and equally outsize, slapstick tomfolloery, although even he is embarrassingly far from consistent."  ~ Lucy Powell, Metro (London), 18 June 2008, in Theatre Record 2008, Issue 12

"Newcomer Natalie Dew gives us a delightfully fresh and deeply felt Viola, and Clive Rowe is a splendidly fat Feste, blessed with the physical grace of a silent-movie comedian and the most haunting of singing voices."  ~ Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph, 20 June 2008, in Theatre Record 2008, Issue 12

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