March 8 – April 5
Sorry as I was to miss the Grand Opening, the impact of the first attendance at this splendidly refurbished theatre made up for it. The good news is, we were in the brand new gallery, whose nice comfy seats really do help you feel like being up amongst the gods; sadly, still not much leg room, and God help anybody less than slender making their way out.
But an excellent view of the stage, which appears enormous, all the more so for the minimal scenery, some indeed utilised purely for a single special effect. And some for that matter, hovering ominously above the players… Nonetheless, we can easily conjure up court or courtyard, rolling sea and lofty arbour.
What is most particularly conjured up of course is the comedy, from brittle witticisms to broad farce; humorous pinpricks to pantomime. To earmark Adam Keast as Feste would do a mighty disservice to Paul Duckworth’s chamelon abilities as musician, knowing observer and crafty fool. Malvolio, then? But that unfortunate is the property of Nicholas Woodeson, whose bearing and timing is impeccable, whether pompous, pathetic or imprisoned
But put Keast as Sir Andrew in company with Matthew Kelly as a dissolute Sir Toby, and my word, you get more than double your money’s worth; they joyously tease out every jot to create at least a smile, more likely guffaws – and after all, Malvolio’s ordeal is pretty damn sadistic. In all this, they are assisted by Pauline Daniel’s Maria and though she acquits herself well, as my companion remarked, she doesn’t half remind you of Mrs Slocombe.
Interestingly, Olivia veers from annoyingly to enchantingly girlish as played by Natalie Dew; usually, that’s more so Orsino but here, it’s he (Adam Levy,) who is generally made of sterner stuff. More interestingly, they are mirrored by the twins, for Luke Jerdy as Sebastian is the more effeminate, and to be honest, a bit prettier, than Viola of whom Jodie McNee makes a terrific job as a right little toughie.
Oh yes, it’s certainly worth the wait. A marvellous night, in every sense, for every man and every woman, everywhere; 12th night is an excellent start to many, many more nights of excellence.