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“Twelfth Night”


This production, although good, was perhaps not as slick as previous Shakespeare plays from Breakaway.  However, the setting was ideal and we were treated to some good performances.


I always enjoy seeing Shakespeare in the open air – it seems to have been written for it, and as a performance space the Inn on the Park is intimate, in that the audience can really feel a part of the production.


It is challenging for the cast, in that they have to make themselves heard against the normal noises of people enjoying themselves on a summer evening.  I must say that although projection was good on the whole – there were a few cases (particularly in Act 1, as Act 2 seemed to benefit from the stillness of the twilight) where parts were lost on occasion.


I liked the 1920’s costuming of the piece, as Clare Waller the Director said in her foreword, the era lent itself well to the feel of Twelfth Night.  The costumes were all appropriate, I particularly liked Feste’s, Sir Toby’s and Olivia’s.


Feste is a part that lends itself equally to either male and female, and I thought was particularly well played by Suzie Drake,  she got lots of humour and expression, with excellent projection, and it was well sung too.


Steph Cotter always gives a good well-studied expressionful performance, and this was no exception, she gave the part of Olivia plenty of meaning and intent, which I enjoyed.


Jon Baker as the Servant, had only a small role, but he carried himself well and spoke his lines with great clarity – nicely done.


I liked the fact that everyone when entrancing and exiting the performance space, walked with purposefulness to keep the general pace going – well accomplished.


John Kensett has cornered the market with his elder statesmen characters, and I enjoyed the comedy he got from Sir Toby Belch – costume was good (I liked the fez), and he managed to get that little twinkle in his eye that drew the audience into his performance.


Stephen Deaville as Orsino was spot on for me – good projection, expression and confusion over Viola and Sebastian – a nicely rounded performance.


Steph Harrison-Barker as Viola/Cesario, managed to get the differentiation between her female and male characters well -  I thought she needed to be a tad louder, but loved it when she let rip near the end – which gave a good dimension to her character.


The younger men in the cast, Pete Martin as Sebastian, Lewis Harrison-Barker as Antonio and Jake Browning as Valentine, all gave excellent performances, getting the essence of their characters well, with fine projection and attention to detail.  Well done guys!  I loved it when Antonio burst in on the scene, it really made us all sit up!


Rob Lewis gave us a fine Malvolio – I loved his reading of the letter, and his relaxation into a man with a mission, from a rather dour servant, and I loved the yellow cross-gartered stockings and the effect they seemed to have on the character – great fun and well-played.


Denis Briggs as Sir Andrew Aguecheek was a good foil to Sir Toby – and did particularly well in the drunken scene.


I really liked Jill Davies as Maria – she was determined in her delivery and created a believable person, with a bit of mischievousness about her! – and a good speech when she lost herself with Olivia.


Shelley Healey as Curio, Lesley Cowland as the Captain and Margie Skinner as Fabian completed the line-up.  


The scene between Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, Feste, Maria and Malvolio was very good, loads of intensity and humour.


So, all in all a good production for first time Director Clare Waller, an interesting production, with well-studied performances, using the Shakespearian language well.  I liked the choice of music it sat well with the production, and I particularly liked the effect when the lighting was turned on for Act 2 – very simple but it created a charming feel to the play and the performance space.  

Breakaway Theatre Company

Twelfth Night

Director: Clare Waller

review date: 23rd July 2015

The Inn on the Park, St.Albans

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