re:View Twelfth Night

Play review by: Cody Maltby

Shakespeare is scary. Something I have personally always known to be fact. However the Filter Theatre’s performance of one of Shakespeare’s most famous comedies Twelfth Night is anything but a threat.

Filter is a group founded at the Guild Hall school of Drama and Music, the main premise of theatre for them is to incorporate sound as a story teller. At the talk afterwards it was interesting to hear the cast and Stage Manager’s thoughts on their “response” to Shakespeare.

Photo: The LPAC Website

As I entered to LPAC theatre the stage lights were on general and the cast of this theatre classic seemed to be getting ready for a gig; wires, instruments and people in casual wear, with the Stage Manager in plain view to the audience at the back, at a table eating sweets. This incomplete set straight away puts you at ease. Then in the first monologue the actor asks the audience to help him out. Shakespeare is no longer scary.

For the full condensed 90 minute performance, the audience become the cast and the music becomes the set. The cast is small with only six actors and two musicians; the main characters of twins Sebastian and Viola are both played by Polly Frame, whilst Jonathan Broadbent plays Viola’s love interest Orsino and drunkard fool Aguecheek. This is confusing at times but also very playful and shows interesting ways of bringing the most of different characters out.

The actors themselves say that Twelfth Night doesn’t lend itself to realism and that audience engagement is a necessity. Yet this doesn’t keep them from holding on to the true spirit of both the story and the language; one minute it is a straight forward monologue reminding us that this is a play, the next it is a jolly fusion of computerised sounds and Brechtian style audience interaction.

Overall Filter’s devised take on an English GCSE student’s worse nightmare is a fine split between originality and tradition, helping people to get excited about Shakespeare for the first time and to appreciate it more than ever. It isn’t them saying “This is how we view Shakespeare” as much as it is “This is how Shakespeare could be viewed”.

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