Friday, February 17, 2017
Bat-shit crazy? Yup. Sports cars, motor-scooters, club music, swimming pools, fountains, neon lights, 1960s cool vibe, a drag queen rendition of Hamlet's To Be Or Not To Be speech, songs (lots and lots of songs) and 4th wall breaking that would put Les Dawson to shame. At one point, I swore I saw a kitchen sink exit pursued by a bear. "It's not too gimmicky is it? The tandem."
So was it any good? You betcha! We loved it. A laugh-a-minute riot. From the gender role switching inherent to the play itself to the gender reversal of Malvolio becoming Malvolia this was as confident and sure-footed as a drag queen in a 6-inch red stiletto.
As for the plot, it's the one with the shipwreck, near identical brother and sister get split up, she becomes a Duke's 'man' servant, falls in love with him, then gets asked to woe the Duke's true love but the true love then falls in love with the sister thinking she's a man. Then the Duke falls in love with his 'man' servant. And then the brother turns up. You get the picture... It's Shakespeare. It's mistaken identity, unrequited love and music being the food of love.
In addition, the cast was stellar. Tamara Lawrance's pivotal role as Viola was amazing. We had seen her in numerous all-female Shakespearean productions recently but in this she was a cut above what had gone before. Doon Mackichan's Feste/Fool was hysterical (She sings! She dances! She acts! She tells jokes!). Tamsin Greig's Malvolia was a revelation too. We knew the gal could sing and play it goofy but her Malvolia was a down right riot. She got a show-stopping standing ovation with her yellow cross garters and spinning wheel bra. Oliver Chris ignited even the usually dull character of Orsino with the stage being poorer whenever he was absent.
But for me the standout performance of the night went to Daniel Rigby's Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Pompous, fey, chicken-livered and proud this particular peacock in a pink-checked lounge suit was the perfect foil to Tim McMullan's Sir Toby Belch. From Aguecheek's sublime delivery, to his silly walks, and his ginger man-bun it was a portrayal of scene-stealing perfection.
Highly Recommended. Over the top, modern and very silly. The perfect antidote to these uncertain times