Twelfth Night @ Greenwich Playhouse, London

cast list
Cameron Ball; Stephen Barden; Amy Buttersworth; Amy Clarke; Tobias Deacon; Emma Deegan; Alexander Devrient; Tim Fordyce; Alexander Gordon Wood; Ella Moody; Nicholas Ruben; Scott Weston

directed by
Bryn Holding

Perhaps his most unwittingly quoted work, Twelfth Night is the quintessential Shakespearean comedy a ballad of mischief, misrecognition and marriage, parading as always in borrowed clothes.

Shipwrecked and seemingly bereaved, Viola does what comes naturally to the industrious waif or stray: she dresses as a man and seeks employment.

Finding this in the entourage of Duke Orsino, a languishing local aristocrat, she becomes embroiled in a love triangle with Olivia, the object of his frustrated desire.
Outrageous as the succeeding mishaps may appear on the page, they are rendered sufficiently plausible to be sincerely funny no mean feat when handling what might be considered the most formulaic of the Bards genres. There was more hearty laughter at the Greenwich Playhouse than knowing smiles and wry golf-applause, and this owed much to the charisma of the cast.

Sell a Doors production is therefore characterised by a number of strong performances. Most notable of these are Clarkes and Deacons as Viola and Sebastian, her hitherto mourned brother, and the conspiratorial triad of Ella Moody, Tim Fordyce and Stephen Barden. The latter of these are chiefly occupied with the plays subplot, where Alexander Gordon Woods supercilious Malvolio is cut down to size in an amusing digression.

Indeed, given the structural and narrative importance of diversion to the play, it was disappointing that its overall pace felt somewhat hurried. Whereas Bryn Holding has sought and attained a sketch-show fluidly to proceedings, a consequence of this is the disorienting conflation of later scenes. His Twelfth Night was at its best when delivered at leisure lingering over an improvised exchange with the audience, or when patiently, even lovingly hovering as a latent absurdity dawns and more crucially is allowed to fully develop in their collective realisation.

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