“If music be the food of love, play on”. Twelfth Night has to be one of Shakespeare’s best loved comedies. The Apollo theatre in London is currently host to a production originally created for the 400th anniversary of the first recorded performance in the Middle Temple Hall in 1602. The production transferred to the West End after a sell out run at the Globe Theatre. The performance features an all-male cast starring Mark Rylance as Olivia and Stephen Fry as Malvolio.
I was lucky enough to witness the performance for myself last week. As I entered Apollo theatre, I was amazed by the intimate yet grand and authentic stage environment. The theatre was filled with the sound of traditional Elizabethan instruments, accompanied by the singing of Feste. There was a buzz amongst the whole audience as we watched in anticipation, as Rylance practiced his ‘Dalek-like’ walk across the stage, whilst other cast members were having their make-up applied and being helped into their costumes.
Rylance and Fry are the big draw for many people, however, as I watched the performance I realised the characters of Maria and Sir Toby Belch really brought out the slapstick, tongue in cheek comedy of the play. Rylance’s performance was a thrill to watch. His performance as Olivia was hysterical, playing a very believable role along with the delivery of lines that brought the written words to life.
Director, Tim Carroll strived for authenticity for the production, which he most definitely achieved throughout the whole performance. At either sides of the stage some of the audience sat in wooden galleries – typical of Elizabethan times. To accompany the authentic stage environment, the clothing had been hand-stitched and the shapes as close to those drafted by 16th century tailors using only buttons, pins, laces and strings.
Reading Shakespeare from a book can sometimes seem slightly tedious, but seeing a performance like this with such superbly, talented actors makes you realise what a brilliant playwright Shakespeare was. The standing ovation was fully deserved!
To top off a wonderful evening, David Tennant happened to be sitting two rows behind us!! This will be one night I won’t be forgetting in a hurry.
By Katie Muir