Twelfth Night or What You Will
(William Shakespeare) (1601-2) Adelaide 18 December 2014
TVC saw a theatrical reading of the Bard’s best comedy on a blustery summer evening in Victoria Square, the Square expensively revamped with little evidence of revamp. Yet kudos to the Council for the initiative of returning some varnished culture to the city’s jaded heart. Twelfth Night, produced by Holly Myers
(also an excellent Viola), was played as Harold Bloom prescribed – “at the frenetic tempo that befits this company of zanies and antics.” Unlike much of the cast’s aspect in Trevor Nunn’s (1996) sombre film, here the roles were properly mined for laughs.
To the modern mind, the sexual hijinks between the Duke, Viola, Olivia and Sebastian are funnier than the humiliation of Malvolio and so it was here, although Malvolio’s (disproportionate) descent from pompous servant to foolish suitor to abject lunatic was done very well. He must be arctic, then craven but never (as Olivier charged of Guinness in the role) a bore. If this ‘improbable fiction’ be the food of love, play on!
All in all, this was richly entertaining and well done, even when a well-dressed but obviously disturbed gentleman appeared by the Christmas tree and fountains in the Square, yelling in our general direction for several minutes. Perhaps he simply wanted to declaim Sir Andrew Aguecheek’s line “I was adored once too.”*
[*Which Michael Henderson in ‘The Spectator’ (3/1/09) tells us Harold Pinter considered the most beautiful line in all literature.]