Twelfth Night, Scena Mundi – French Protestant Church until 9th April

Twelfth Night, Scena Mundi

★★★★

Review by Sarah Tinsley

With exquisite costumes and graceful execution, there is an undeniable elegance to Scena Mundi’s production of Twelfth Night. The striking protestant church in Soho provides a fitting backdrop.

When Viola is stranded in Illyria, fearing her brother dead, she takes on the mantle of a boy and goes to serve the Count Orsino. Under the name Cesario, she finds herself falling in love with her master, and when she goes to woo the beautiful Olivia, finds that she is received rather more enthusiastically than she had hoped. Underpinned by the comic ramblings of Uncle Toby, Sir Andrew, Maria and the overly proud Malvolio, Twelfth Night contains the usual spectacle of cross-dressing, hidden identities and final reveals that are a beloved part of Shakespeare’s comedies.

Photo Credit Jessy Boon Cowler

As an oft-performed play, Twelfth night can be wild, irreverent or bawdy, but in this case, they have opted for a restrained performance that delights in all the awkwardness that love can bring. Feste, played sinuously by Edward Fisher, is the only character truly aware of all of the deceit and bullying occurring, and dances on the periphery, making light of the serious business of love and delivering a song or two which engorges the mood, further ensnaring the hapless players in webs of their own making. He also seems to act as a link to the present, with his futuristic trousers and glasses, he is a link to the audience and the past, and a constant reminder of how prevalent the themes and ideas of Shakespeare’s works are today.

Photo Credit Jessy Boon Cowler

Photo Credit Jessy Boon Cowler

Emma Hall is a proud Olivia, whose giddy response to Cesario makes her far more appealing than other portrayals of the character I have seen. Harriet Hare’s delivery as Cesario/Viola is sincere, but I find her lines a little lacking in varied emotion. Pip Brignall plays Orsino in a delightful manner, giving the impression that he’d much rather hop off with his manservant, if only society didn’t disapprove. Jack Christie and Thomas Winsor are a well-suited comic double act, one bellowing, the other whimpering, while the comic crown has to go to Martin Prest, who portrays the snivelling Malvolio so delightfully it’s a hilarious treat when he pops in as two other characters, simply as the contrast so much with his other role.

The thoughtful movement of the characters is evident, thanks to Darren Royston’s excellent work on movement, while the sumptuous costumes of Georgia Green are a delightful mix of Elizabethan court and haute couture, with delightful little pieces added to give them a modern flavour.

A delight for the eyes and ears.

Twelfth Night, Scena Mundi

★★★★

Review by Sarah Tinsley

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