Twelfth Night

Aug 24 2018 | By More

★★★☆☆       Rumbustious jollity

Paradise in the Vault (Venue29): Mon 13–Sun 26 Aug 2018
Review by Hugh Simpson

Charging at Shakespeare at full speed and with all comic guns blazing, Some Kind of Theatre’s production of Twelfth Night at Paradise in the Vault will win no prizes for subtlety but should please a wide audience.

Emily Ingram’s adaptation has managed to condense Shakespeare’s comedy into just over an hour while keeping all of the important plot threads intact. This gives the piece a breathless air that enhances the humour but may prove a little difficult for newcomers to the play to follow.

Some Kind of Theatre Twelfth Night EdFringe 2018 Chris Pearson, Gerry Kielty, Justin Skelton and James Sullivan. Pic SKO Theatre

Chris Pearson, Gerry Kielty, Justin Skelton and James Sullivan. Pic SKO Theatre

The comic potential of the piece is certainly played up, with the various cross-dressing and gender swap confusions conducted largely with a wink and a leer, rather than with much thought of anything more serious. This does mean that what can be a bittersweet and complex play has very little light and shade.

It also means that the scene where the steward Malvolio (who has been tricked into believing his mistress Olivia loves him) is incarcerated in an asylum, sticks out a mile. This not only is the most successful use of this production’s Victorian setting, it also shows a Malvolio who really is ‘notably ill used’.

In this context, doubling Malvolio with Antonio is a masterstroke; however, while Justin Skelton’s expansive comedy works beautifully for the steward, it is less successful for Antonio.

The concentration on a brisk comedy affects some other performances. Cinzia DuBois’s Olivia looks like something out of Tim Burton in her white make-up and black mourning outfit, and is adept at comic gestures and sidelong glances. However, she seems to have been encouraged to deliver her lines with speed the primary consideration rather than meaning or metre.

pathos very well done

James Sullivan’s Andrew Aguecheek is presented as a hyperactive teenager, all angular leaps and over-assertive gestures, with his delivery of the character’s famous one moment of pathos very well done. It is rare to see his enabler Toby Belch presented as so unjolly and cynical as Chris Pearson does here, which makes for an interesting contrast. Rebecca Phipps provides some needed reality as Maria.

Some Kind of Theatre Twelfth Night EdFringe 2018 Olivia Cinzia DuBois. Pic SKO Theatre

Cinzia DuBois pic: SKO Theatre

Elsa van der Wal’s doubling of Viola and Sebastian is notably successful in conveying at least some of the music of the verse – something that Michael Brown’s Orsino struggles with, largely due to most of his speeches being hacked to pieces. Van der Wal also manages to differentiate between the twins, with any confusion probably being deliberate.

With so much of the play missing, there must have been some consideration to dropping the character of the fool Feste altogether. With all of his songs, most of his comic business and virtually all of his philosophy dropped, there is little for him to do. However, it is a good thing he was kept, as Gerry Kielty invests the part with such a malevolent glee that the energy levels on stage rise noticeably whenever he is involved.

There is no shortage of invention from director Chris Paddon or any of the company here. Indeed, there is probably too much. There are easily enough ideas on display for a full-length production, and some of them should have been jettisoned. What emerges, however, for all its comparative lack of profundity, is a densely funny and satisfying production.

Running time 1 hour 5 minutes (no interval)
Paradise in the Vault (Venue 29), 11 Merchant St, EH1 2QD
Monday 13 – Sunday 26 August 2018
Daily (not Sun 19) at 9.15pm
Book tickets on the Fringe website:
Company website:
Facebook: @somekindoftheatre
Twitter: @SKOTheatre


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