Twelfth Night is one of Shakespeare’s most frequently done comedies, owing to its versatile script and hedonistic high-jinx. Impact Theatre have produced a slick piece of theatre that has managed something which not all Shakespeare productions can pull off – it’s remarkably fresh.
The prologue to the play, gives us a taste of what’s to come. The verse has been modernised, effectively, and we are introduced to ‘The Elephant’ – the Inn where they have chosen to set a lot of the action (in homage to their host venue, Camberwell’s adorable Blue Elephant Theatre). The cast, play us in with a version of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ to get us into the action.
Throughout the piece we are treated to various current pop songs played brilliantly by the cast of actor-musicians (and in one case actor-beatboxer). Having the actors always remain in the ‘band’ while not involved in the action is a very nice touch and helps the piece transfer momentum from scene to scene.
All of the acting was of a very high standard, with the Shakespearean verse delivered with clarity and flair – it was always very obvious what was going on in the scene, but there were a couple of standouts. Sian Eleanor Green as Feste was simply hilarious. Her vast array of facial expressions had the audience hanging on her every word wondering what she would do next, mixed with an energetic physicality and perfectly pitched silliness that left me and my companion in tears of laughter. Joshua Jewkes and Dinos Psychogios, and Sir Toby and Sir Andrew respectively, also gave excellent performances. Thanks to their nuanced and three dimensional takes on the characters, and Sam Dunstan’s careful direction, they had the kind of chemistry that is required to make Twelfth Night a success. They were also completely distinct from each other, which is again something many productions fail achieve.
I felt that Malvolio stood out from the others – a tuxedo was a bland and obvious choice when compared with sir Toby’s Hawaiian shirts and the Duke’s cream loafers and signet rings. Timothy Weston gave a fine performance, indeed his long monologue at the end of Act 1 was a highlight, but I feel he wasn’t given a chance to fit in with the vision of the show.
However the energy on stage from the cast was truly infections and their relationships with each other very strong and well developed. Overall, Original Impact Theatre presented a fun and silly production of the Bard’s classic – which is exactly how it should be.