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Twelfth Night

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#1 Epicoene

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 06:36 AM

Interested to have had not a single reply on the Comedy of Errors thread, is no-one going to see this season ? I know enthusiasts will have seen them in Stratford but I would have expected a few people to have made the trek to Camden.

The RSC have produced Twelfth Night far too often during Michael Boyd's reign (4 times ?) but this one is really very good and Jonathan Slinger is excellent.

#2 popcultureboy

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 12:36 PM

Seeing it tomorrow matinee, can't wait.

#3 Lynette

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 09:34 PM

View PostEpicoene, on 13 June 2012 - 06:36 AM, said:

Interested to have had not a single reply on the Comedy of Errors thread, is no-one going to see this season ? I know enthusiasts will have seen them in Stratford but I would have expected a few people to have made the trek to Camden.


seeing it in Stratford later inthe year

#4 Epicoene

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 05:25 AM

View PostLynette, on 13 June 2012 - 09:34 PM, said:

seeing it in Stratford later inthe year

After seeing it read Billington's review of it - he has constructed, using metaphorical steel girders and reinforced concrete, the most elaborate pun of all time to describe a key moment in the staging.

#5 Mr Todd

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 07:44 AM

Having been impressed by Jonathan Slinger's Richard III in "The Histories" I was very disappointed by his "Macbeth" last year. Several directorial quirks in the production as a whole probably didn't help with my enjoyment of it. I just hope the RSC don't feel the need to shoehorn him automatically into all their flagship productions regardless of whether he's suited for the role - he clearly is regarded as one of their rising stars and with some justification but, laudable as the ensemble concept is in my opinion, I think Doran will still need to pull in a few names, even if not huge stars, to work the casting around rather than just Slinger, more Slinger and still more Slinger.

#6 Lynette

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 05:18 PM

I thought his Macbeth was v good. And the production one of the best of that play I've seen.

#7 Epicoene

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 07:37 AM

View PostLynette, on 14 June 2012 - 05:18 PM, said:

I thought his Macbeth was v good. And the production one of the best of that play I've seen.

As time goes on it is clear Slinger is a very protean actor - his career trajectory so far is similar to Simon Russell-Beale but in fact he is a very different kind of actor, far more technical in the McKellen mould, and I have no problem about him going through all the leading roles.

#8 David J

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 05:44 PM


This is the third professional production I have seen. The previous two being  the Chichester production with Patrick Stewart and Gregory Doran's 2009 production with Richard Wilson. I also went to a post-show talk, although the sounds produced by the tank of water being pumped out became increasingly distracting (whatever it was I do not want to mop it up).


I rather liked this waterlogged take on the play, after seeing a rather colourful production in 2009. This production presented an Illyria that was once a world of pleasure but has now fallen into disrepair. Using the familiar wooden boards of a ship and the tank of water, the idea was that this world was slowly moving into the sea.


Here to upset the countess' dispirited household comes Nicholas Day as Sir Toby Belch and Bruce Mackinnon as Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Sir Toby is ever the inappropriate uncle, sporting a Hawaiian shirt and speaking quite jovially, whilst Bruce wears a blazer that clashes with his spiky hair and plays Sir Andrew as the bumbling fool that he is. Kevin McMonagle adds to this odd ball group as an aged Feste who has seen better days but merrily plays his role as a fool. He provides one of the highlights of the production with his songs, as he plays some sombre chords on a portable electronic keyboard, adding to this broken down setting.


If there was a problem with the production it would have to be the romantic leads. Emily Taaffe was quite a lovely Viola but she did not manage to go beyond that. She did not feel like the messenger that would wait like a sheriff's post till she is allowed to see Olivia. Whilst I liked Jonathan McGuinness's washed out (no pun intended) Orinso, though once again he did not provide anything else.


Yes Epicoene the differences between the twins was rather noticeable, but again it did not bother me this time. Kirsty Bushell however was very good as she transformed from a grief stricken Olivia to an Olivia brimming with excitement to see Cesario again. She did however look a rather too old to fall in love with the child like Cesario/Viola.


Jonathan Slinger once again proves himself a brilliant Shakespearean actor as Malvolio. He said that he preferred to approach his roles from a psychological stand point, and always tried to find the opposite of what Malvolio was perceived to be. Indeed his Malvolio displayed a neurotic side to his character even before the letter scene. When his humiliation came he wore more (or less) than just yellow stockings. It was outrageous but it was clear that Jonathan was enjoying it, and he did say during the talk that he went on a journey with it.


As well as the wooden boards and water tank, the set comprised of a dilapidated hotel. Characters would come up and down an elevator and instead of a box tree the fools would hide behind a reception counter and a number of settees dotted around the stage during the letter scene. Malvolio and Maria were also dressed for the setting, as a smartly suited manager and a serving maid in a black and white uniform.


This production did well in showing a sombre Illyria within a destitute hotel, whilst an abnormal group of fools roamed the place plotting the humiliation of a snooty manager. The performances from the leading actors were however mixed overall, which makes this production worth seeing at a High Matinee


High Matinee


A full review can be seen at http://shallicompare...ght-review.html
My reviews can also be found at "A Night at the Theatre"

http://www.anightatthetheatre.co.uk/

#9 Epicoene

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 07:26 AM

View PostDavid J, on 02 August 2012 - 05:44 PM, said:


Yes Epicoene the differences between the twins was rather noticeable, but again it did not bother me this time.


Why "again" ?


Posting reviews like that here is really an extended spoiler and not really part of a discussion. You could post them over in the reviews area, or just post a link to the review.



#10 igb

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 11:48 AM

I saw this on Tuesday night.   I think Twelfth Night is the play by Shakespeare that I like least, to the point of actually disliking it rather than merely being indifferent.  I've seen it half a dozen times, but never found it either particularly funny or particularly insightful.  I've always come away thinking that there must be a couple of scenes missing, in which a plausible justification for the persecution of Malvolio is outlined.   And even if you sketch those scenes out in your mind, the cruelty with which he's treated seems entirely excessive.   Yes, some of the productions I've seen have been flawed (Sher and Walter dragged down by Sher's performance) or simply disasters on a pan-galactic scale (G---- R--s-J---s's production will live in the memory of those that saw it, although they've spent a fortune on expensive therapy trying to forget), but some have been either just boring (Doran/Wilson recently) or actually rather good (Haydn Gwynne and Desmond Barrit, if memory serves) and still leave a feeling that inside the comedy, there's something really rather nasty going on.

This production, as I'm sure everyone knows, is part of the "What Country Friends Is This" series of linked productions, the others being Comedy of Errors and Tempest, both of which I've seen already.  The productions share the outlines of the set and a company, but there are two directors.   The Comedy of Errors, directed by Amir Nizar Zuabi, was a joy: fast, witty and exciting.  The Tempest, directed by David Farr, was warm and well-intentioned, but for me didn't quite get beyond "very competent".

This Twelfth Night, again directed by Farr, wasn't for me as joyous as the Comedy of Errors, but was nonetheless very good, and probably the production of this play that I've come closest to actively enjoying.  The set's water tank was used to more dramatic effect that in the other productions: somehow, people are able to enter through it, arriving waterlogged downstage.   Slinger is extremely amusing, and the persecution of him has a lightness of touch which makes the play seem less cruel; it's another discussion as to whether that's a good thing or not, but it at least me feel less like I was watching senseless bullying.  His arrival in yellow stockings cross gartered was funnier, and less manic, than other productions I've seen, and with the house full of teenagers was played for maximum laughs.

Kirsty Bushell is excellent as Olivia, although I'm not sure that the current trend (see also Doran's production in The Courtyard) to treat the part as a slightly desperate cougar is the only possible interpretation.  But given that is the decision, she was fabulously funny and also sexy enough to make it clear why the Duke was so besotted.  Emily Taaffe (crazy name, crazy gal!) as Viola arrives on stage drenched in cold water which left her likely to poke out the eyes of the front row, but is convincing both as Viola and as Cesario.   I didn't care that her ostensible brother is a foot taller than her, but it seems to bother others.  It's not entirely clear why either Olivia or Duke Orsino would fall for a man-child, but the text doesn't really provide a lot of help there either.  The supporting cast were uniformly excellent, with Belch's entourage featuring both of the Dromios to good effect (and, continuing the links to that production, obviously the set designer got a good price on jump leads).

At a couple of points towards the end I got the slight suspicion that the cast were on the point of corpsing, but that might just have been convincing laughter.  They were clearly having a whale of a time.  For no particular reason I tend to book early in runs, so this was unusual for me in being the last week of the production; it certainly had a slickness and a confidence that the Tempest, seen much earlier in its run, lacked, although in actually over-ran its published time (probably down to extended exit hands on a couple of occasions).

As I say, the play has a dark heart I'm not sure I like.  But this time I'd promised myself that if I still didn't like it, I would make a policy of not going to productions of it again.  I won't be making that policy decision yet.





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