The Arrows and Traps company have turned their hand to Twelfth Night, the latest in their string of excellent productions this year. Having had the chance to review a few of them now, I have nothing but good to say about this particular production team. Twelfth Night is the classic Shakespearean tale of cross-dressing and mistaken identity, retold and directed in a sensitive and unique way by Ross McGregor. McGregor is to be congratulated on yet another excellent Shakespearean production, adding to the Arrows and Traps oeuvre with a quality rendition.
The story is delivered in a relatively faithful way, although a re-reading of Antonio (Spencer lee Osborne) and Sebastian’s (Alex Stevens) relationship brings the production sharply into the present, sensitively performed by the two, with added musical components to augment the story overall. It is all set against very versatile staging, utilising lighting to great effect particularly in the use of silhouettes for the delivery of minor character lines. The use of tripartite staging is very clever – modern without being stark, the action shifts cleanly from one section to the next, complementing slick performances.
This is such a talented group of young actors. There’s not a bad performer on stage, and I have begun to become familiar with many of the Arrows and Traps faces. It was pleasing to see Cornelia Baumann (Olivia) display her comedic skills (having previously seen her as Lady Macbeth earlier in the year), which highlighted her range as an actress. She and Pippa Caddick (Viola) are excellent together on stage; funny, capable, sharp performers. Also of note are the irresistible scenes between Maria (Elle Banstead Salim), Sir Andrew (David Grace) and Sir Toby (Tom Telford). Alongside Adam Elliott’s Malvolio, their cheekiness and silliness are rendered in hilarious fashion. The chemistry between the cast is unmistakeable, and it adds to the warmth and charm of the tale.
New to me was Lloyd Warbey (Feste) whose music talent and physicality made for a wonderful new take on the fool. Music is integrated in a far more sensitive, suggestive way in this production than in past productions from this team, with Warbey delivering many of these in a sincere and skilful manner. It was perhaps only a little overbearing in the final musical number, and some of the fight music felt a little out of place. However, these are minor concerns. There is so much to recommend in this production, a perfect pick-me-up as the nights are growing darker and colder outside.
Twelfth Night is part of a double-bill with Othello, running at present at the Gatehouse in Highgate. I highly recommend this production and have no doubt there is only more great work to come from the Arrows & Traps team. I cannot recommend the production more highly, and it is truly a pleasure to watch the growth of these individual performers and the overall creative team with each and every production.
Review by Christina Calgaro
Outrageous high comedy ensues as the pangs of unrequited love affect the unforgettable characters of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. While the lovelorn Duke Orsino plots to win the heart of the mourning Olivia, an alliance of servants and buffoons scheme against the high-handedness of Olivia’s steward, the pompous Malvolio.
When Orsino engages the cross-dressed Viola, who has disguised herself as a young man under the name Cesario, to plead with Olivia on his behalf, a bittersweet and hilarious chain of events follows.
TWELFTH NIGHT & OTHELLO (in rep)
by William Shakespeare
Presented by Arrows & Traps Theatre Company
1st – 19th November 2016
Running time: 2 hours 35 minutes, including one 15-minute interval