Venue: The Scented Garden, St Anne’s Well Gardens, Hove
Reviewer: Rowan Dore
Publication: The Argus
If music be the food of love, this is the spicy, fast-food version of Shakespeare’s endearing comedy of mistaken identity.
The setting is in delightfully basic surroundings, which are perfect for an outdoor production, providing the weather holds.
It is a barmy play for a balmy summer’s evening.
The cast do incredibly well in the circumstances and in one hour and 45 minutes they entertain with the funniest and whackiest Shakespearean production I have ever seen.
The diction of every character is perfect, so you can hear every word.
Their changing room is a wooden shelter and their backdrop a weeping willow.
They and the audience have to put up with flying ants, midges, cooing pigeons, singing birds, traffic, the sound of skateboarders, music from nearby houses and even fireworks.
It all adds to the fun and each of the performances for the next three weeks promises to be different.
All the cast needs is an appreciative audience and I hope they get it because they are a talented bunch with a lot of experience.
The play has been directed by Brighton-based director Stephen Casey, who normally can be found working with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
He has cut vast chunks out of the Bards’ words, leaving in all the choice lines. It is obvious that the cast have responded to his ideas.
We have Lucinda Cowden, who played Melanie in Neighbours, as Viola and then Cesario.
An amazingly camp performance from Charlie Day as Malvolio and a highly professional portrayal of Maria from Sarah Mann, who is the founder of the production company Incisor.
With Baz Bloxham as Sir Andrew Aguecheek and James Madden as Sir Toby Belch, there is plenty of over-acting as the parts demand.
The show is held together by Feste (Eddy Segal), the roving clown complete with guitar, and more serious performances by Asa Joel as Orsino and Adam McConville as Sebastian.
If anyone thought Shakespeare was dull, they will surely change their minds by watching this production.
Venue: The Pavilion Theatre, Brighton
Date: March 2006
Reviews by children from a local school studying GCSE English for a Critic Competition:
“Twelfth Night, or as you like it, and by the audience’s reaction they certainly did. One of Shakespeare’s classic romantic comedies brought to the stage in all its glory. A thoroughly enjoyable romp. A drunken Toby roared and staggered around the stage and the lovely yet confused Olivia. What more could you ask for? Marvellous stuff. If you see one Shakespeare this month make it Stephen Casey’s Twelfth Night at the Brighton Festival Dome.” EH
“When I found out that I was going to see Twelfth Night, I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t understand the language used. But I was wrong. You could tell what was going on by the way the play was acted. The actors emphasised the parts that were important so, even if you didn’t understand all of the language, you were able to enjoy the play….. I think it’s more of a comedy than a romance. It is definitely Shakespeare but they’ve spiked it up a bit. This is the best Shakespeare play I’ve ever seen.” BW
“Shakespeare, oh please help me! These words were running through my mind as I flopped down in the Brighton Dome to watch Incisor’s version of Twelfth Night. But that evening turned out to be the best. When anyone mentioned Shakespeare to me I immediately thought of long, boring, drawn out scenes with men and women mixing up the sexes. This production has made me think the exact opposite…. Even though the language was quite hard to keep up with, nothing could have dampened this company’s energetic production of Twelfth Night, complete with laughter, love and deception. I am a convert.” DL
“… It was lively and boisterous, the actors leaping about the stage, making each character as hearty and robust as a mug of ale…It sparkles with life. A strong performance from Lucinda Cowden as Viola and Michael D’Cruze’s hilariously dignified Malvolio, plus a generally exuberant atmosphere made it a worthwhile evening which most could enjoy”. SB
“Twelfth Night is remarkable on just about every account… a merry tale told well by an excellent cast.” MP
“Upon seeing the Twelfth Night, I banished all thoughts of Shakespeare being overrated. I truly understood for the fist time why he has achieved such remarkable stature in theatre. The play was a hilarious and tangled web, with a fantastic blend of traditional and modern acting…An ideal story line is topped off by passionate acting from an acting troupe that manages to, almost effortlessly, create a lively, bouncy atmosphere. Whilst normally the play may be a struggle to watch, the actors manage to turn it into an exultant, leisurely performance…. and produce a tantalizing slice of genius…. I can recommend this to all audiences and don’t doubt that everyone will love this colourful, whimsical, rambunctious performance.” JH
“… Throughout the whole play, I could tell that I wasn’t the only one who was enjoying the performance, because the audience were also completely drawn into the story and you could hear the right laughs at the right times and no insensible comments were made at all (This was a huge difference to the plays we see in school!!). The acting and the cast were fabulous. It was a great success and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was well above my expectation and it made me left in awe… A very well-done production indeed!” LM