Since I started my epic escapade of theatre back in 2014, my love has been rekindled slowly for the bard with just seeing and enjoying plays being performed, as they should, and not dissected. Also, life has been brought into them by being endlessly innovative, maybe controversially for some, with their telling. My love is perhaps finally coming through.
Twelfth Night needs little explaining after all this time, it is a farcical tale of twins separated, random unlikely disguises and some quick love decisions at the end. You might think this is Shakespeare's own little pantomime and I don't think really you would be far from the truth.
Director John Myhill, who has more than a few roots in panto, might have had the same idea as we have comic antics where you want to shout out he's behind you, broad characterisation and it all ending on a very panto typical cast singalong as well. Maybe we should have had someone holding up the words as well?
Kate Billingham gives Maria a wonderfully naughty, mischievous edge, while Victoria Miles is stately and clearly spoken as Olivia. Barry Dougall is back in glorious fool action as Feste, and also gets to delight with a few singing numbers. Ben Stanton continues to show his multiple skills as Sebastian, although the role is somewhat streamlined and doesn't come to its full until towards the end.
Perhaps the greatest delight from this production, and finally for myself glorious to see him having a bigger role to get his teeth into, is Martin Borley-Cox's Sir Andrew Aguecheek. A first-class comic performance, even managing to steal scenes from Sir Toby.
White Cobra's production is trimmed and delightfully paced, coming in at just two hours. Also, congratulations for most of the performers managing to hear their cues, without the need for too many, The Dresser "here comes X now" moments, no mean feat I should imagine as the words drift into the wrong direction.
Performance reviewed: Friday 12th July 2019 at Delepre Abbey, Northampton
Twelfth Night runs until Sunday 14th July 2019 at Delepre Abbey, Northampton and one further date in July at Benthall Hall, Broseley. For full details visit their website at White Cobra