Cast and Crew
Orsino Andrew Berriman Valentine Peter Gordon Curio Thomas Crellen Viola, later Cesario Hannah Morrison Sebastian Simon Cole Antonio John Kirkbride Feste Robert Icke Olivia Fiona Sibbald Malvolio Josh Mason Maria Rachel Scott Fabian Daniel Rees Sir Toby Belch Daniel Hill Sir Andrew Aguecheek Alastair Roberts
Director Robert Icke Producer Daniel Hill Lighting Designer Matthew Case Technician Martin Turner Costume Designer Gayle Evans Dresser Jenny Atkinson
Composer Thanatip Viturawong Clarinet Fern Crawford Piano Laura Bury Percussion Simon Coleman Cello Ben Salter
14th September 2006
HAUNTINGLY beautiful, riotously funny and with a thrilling dark edge – the young company perfectly captures the essence of one of Shakespeare’s funniest plays. A softly candlelit, somewhat sleepy atmosphere is suddenly extinguished when a violent storm shipwrecks twins and throws them into the unsuspecting paths of Count Orsino and Countess Olivia. The twins, a boy and a girl, are unaware each has survived. She disguises herself as a boy to work for Orsino and is sent to pledge his love to Olivia. The storm gathers momentum on land as tempers rise, confusion reigns and passions stir in some very unlikely places.
High comedy and near tragedy are effortlessly intertwined in Josh Mason’s outstanding performance as Malvolio, Olivia’s proud and disdainful steward – who not only gets his comeuppance but a fetching pair of yellow stockings to boot. Meanwhile Sir Toby Belch (Daniel Hill) and Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Alastair Roberts) create some hilarious moments with their superb drunken capers.
Subtle, contemporary costumes and a simple set allow room for the colourful characters to really bloom in this terrific interpretation of a much-loved favourite. Live musicians and a beautiful piano music help to create an unforgettable atmosphere.
The British Theatre Guide
13th September 2006
This is a very dark Twelfth Night, full of characters who are completely self-obsessed: Orsino, petulant because he can’t have his own way; Olivia whose self-indulgent mourning turns to roaring lust for the boy Cesario; Toby Belch, determined to squeeze every last penny out of Andrew Aguecheek and full of spite against Malvolio; Aguecheek himself, almost moronic in his self-delusion; Maria sharing Sir Toby’s spite; Malvolio, truly “sick with self-love”; Feste both enigmatic and vengeful. Only Viola emerges without stain.
The set is dark: a dark gauze behind which flicker many candles forms the back wall, broken only by a large set of double doors whose frame echoes the large picture frame above, in which some of the central characters appear, portrait-like, at significant points in the play. The lighting is deliberately patchy, emphasising the darkness. There is original music from Thai composer Thanatip Viturawong, played by a four-piece band, which reinforces the mood.
As in Arden’s previous productions, director Robert Icke brings an innovative intelligence to the piece, creating some startling moments. A moment of boyish horseplay between Orsino and Cesario almost becomes an embrace. As Feste sings “Come away, death”, sitting together on a sofa, they almost imperceptibly lean in towards each other until their heads are just short of touching. Olivia slips off her black mourning dress and, in red underwear and black stockings and suspenders, throws herself on Cesario.
Nor is the latent homoeroticism of the play in any way glossed over. Not only is the attraction of Orsino for the “boy” Cesario overt, but Antonio’s passion for Sebastian could not be clearer.
And then there is the enigmatic figure of Feste (played by Icke himself). This is no clown in the traditional sense: rather he carries with him an air of what is almost menace as he moves between the two households.
The performances are excellent. Newcomer to the company Hannah Morrison makes a totally convincing Viola/Cesario. She has a tremedously expressive face and convinces both as boy and girl. Fiona Sibbald’s Olivia is feisty and seductive and Andrew Berriman conveyed exactly Orsino’s incredulity that he cannot have his own way, something which he obviously has always had. Daniel Hill, whose comic talent was so obvious in the company’s Dream, again reinforces that impression with a Toby Belch of greater than usual depth.
Another newcomer to the company is Alastair Roberts as Andrew Aguecheek: he avoids the over-the-top foolery into which actors sometimes fall when playing this character and gives us a glimpse of the pathetic human being beneath .
Josh Mason’s Malvolio is a wonderful creation. Shorter than usual – in fact, probably the shortest man on the stage – he dominates his scenes, even in his discomforture when Sir Toby attacks him in the “cakes and ale” scene.
As we have come to expect from Arden, this is an unusual “take” on the play, carried off with great energy and subtlety. From the shipwreck scene in which the words of the captain are split up and given to Orsino’s attendants who crisscross the stage sheltering under umbrellas, to the final scene where, as Feste sings, Sir Andrew and Malvolio leave Illyria, there are far too many nice touches to mention in a short review. Twelfth Night is, like the Dream, one of the most performed of Shakespeare’s plays, to the extent that sometimes we feel “Oh no, not another!”, especially whene performed by a company whose oldest member is 21. To miss this, however, would be to miss an enjoyable and perceptive insight into the familiar.
26th September, 2006
Having seen an Arden Theatre production before, I knew what to expect – a lively, youthful, and thoroughly entertaining take on classic stories. Twlefth Night did not fail to deliver.
Don’t be fooled by the age of these actors, they have talent in abundance. Catch them whilst they’re still within your budget, as they’ll soon be making it big.
Darlington and Stockton Times
25th September, 2006
OFTEN said to be Shakespeare’s funniest comedy, Twelfth Night is a complex play which is difficult to perform with justice. Fortunately, the Arden Theatre Company rose to the challenge admirably, producing a proficient and skilled offering with some excellent individual performances, made more impressive owing to the apparent youth of the cast.
The plot, perhaps one of Shakespeare’s best, sees a twin brother and sister shipwrecked, each believing the other to be dead, and the sister, Viola, posing as her brother. Things start to get complicated when she finds herself in the middle of a love triangle, and a comic sub-plot, involving subterfuge, a love letter and a pair of yellow stockings, is hatched by some of the other characters.
Leading lady Hannah Morrison put in a solid performance as Viola (later Cessario) and Andrew Berriman was charming and convincing as Orsino. Producer Daniel Hill and Alastair Roberts were brilliantly funny as slapstick double act Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek, but it was Josh Mason, as Malvolio, who really stole the show, reducing the audience to fits of laughter with his superbly superior and devastatingly funny interpretation of the character.
Also worthy of a mention was director Robert Icke as Feste the fool – who ironically is probably the play’s wisest character – who gave a quietly understated yet powerful performance.
The set was strikingly simple and beautiful – a black backdrop lit by white candles – which reflected the play’s fantasy elements but did not distract from the acting. However, the theatre was perhaps a little cold with not enough leg room. Overall, the performance was impressive, excellently executed and great value for money.
It is no surprise this company has had rave reviews from the BBC and the British Theatre Guide for previous plays. It is certainly one to watch.
Best Twelfth Night I’ve ever seen, and I reckon I’ve seen six, including the last few RSC ones (including the famous Nicol Williamson as Malvolio one). Standout performances were the Toby, the Andrew, the Feste, and the Viola – all hard parts and all carried off with delightful humour, style, aplomb and spirit. I laughed a lot, and I even cried a bit. I’ll be back on Saturday, and will stand some of you a drink! Stunning!
I had never visited Arc before, but was recommended you by two friends of ours, and was delighted to find your superb production of Twelfth Night hidden away in the dark depths of urban Stockton. Like the above reviewer, we’ve seen 12 x 12 12th nights, and yours, I have to say, was simply the best.
Superbly directed throughout, with haunting, crystalline music, and with superb performances from the biggies – Daniel Hill’s gritty, dark, Sir Toby Belch, Alistair Roberts’ tragically funny Andrew (the suitcase at the end was a lovely touch), Josh Mason’s hilarious bog-eyed Malvolio, Hannah Morrison’s Viola, who really did have a mind that envy couldn’t but call fair, Robert Icke’s beautifully-voiced, still-centre clown – to the littlies – Peter Gordon’s effete Valentine, Daniel Rees’ lively Fabian, and Rachel Scott’s hearty Maria.
Your production will live with me for a long time yet.
Absolutely agree… Twelfth Night was easily the best production of this play I have ever seen and I’ve seen another one in Barnard Castle already this summer that didn’t nearly compare to yours. Keep them coming… I’ll be back to see whatever you do.
I don’t profess to be a Shakespeare expert, or have any experience of being a critic but I am someone who has always had an interest in ‘amateur’ theatre. I have seen all the productions by Arden and, in my humble opinion, none could be remotely described as ‘amateur’.
The company has grown in professionalism and stature with every production and Twelfth Night was, to my mind, the best yet. I can honestly say that I was transfixed for the duration of the performance, not wanting to miss a word. At times I roared with laughter, only to me moved to tears later on.
To me, the most important feature of Arden is the obvious enjoyment that the company gets from these productions – and backing this, the commitment from everybody to achieve the highest standards – not just the performers on the stage but also the often unsung heroes behind the scenes, without whom no production can succeed. Notwithstanding this, the skill portrayed by all the actors made all the parts believeable.
I am delighted that you have obtained financial backing, not only for future Shakespeare productions but also to allow you to expand your theatrical vocabulary into other areas.Keep up the good work! – I look forward to your next production.