TWELFTH NIGHT: Open Air Theatre Regent s Park

PUBLISHED: 12:26 17 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:14 07 September 2010

fOUR STAR RATING By Simon Jackson Director Edward Dick s new production of Shakespeare s comedy, Twelfth Night, proves to be an easily accessible escapist romp. Dick, directing his first production at the venue, rewards viewers with a de

TWELFTH NIGHT

Open Air Theatre

Regent's Park

HHHHI

Director Edward Dick's new production of Shakespeare's comedy, Twelfth Night, proves to be an easily accessible escapist romp.

Dick, directing his first production at the venue, rewards viewers with a delightful tale of confusion, cross-dressing, lust and attraction that transports spectators to a far away land.

The bulk of the action takes place in the grounds of a shuttered country house and the intimate set lends itself perfectly to the outdoor location as the audience are gently drawn into the tale.

The revelry begins with a thundering explosion and pall of smoke as the shipwrecked Viola, played with aplomb by Natalie Dew, is hurled upon Illyria's dangerous shores.

Realising she has become separated from her brother Sebastian, who she presumes drowned, she chooses to ensure her safety by disguising herself as a man named Cesario and gains employment with the besotted Duke Orsino.

The object of the laddish Duke's affections is the overtly sensual, but grieving Countess Olivia, played with assurance by the experienced theatre actress Janie Dee.

However, Olivia immediately becomes infatuated with Cesario, who in turn has fallen in love with the Duke and, aided by a hilarious sub-plot and a host of manic characters a gamut of disarray, merriment, confusion and gaiety ensues.

The plot and sub plot were seamlessly joined by the excellent Clive Rowe who plays Feste, the Duke's fool.

Rowe, a musical regular with a killer voice, had by the second act ensured that the negligible barrier between storyteller and audience had been swept aside.

The be-suited Rowe, sporting a manic hairstyle and always within sight of his transportable bar that masqueraded a large suitcase, set the tone for the evening as he joked, fooled and sang his way through the tale.

The cast which included the wayward Sir Toby Belch, camp Sir Andrew Aguecheek and saucy Maria, played by Tim Woodward, Clive Hayward and Claire Benedict respectively, all added to the joviality.

The open air stage's unique participatory experience was apparent when a forged letter, that formed the basis of the sub-plot, was surreptitiously dropped in front of its intended victim but instead fell off the stage.

A hasty rescue mission ensued and amongst the swift ad-libbing and ultimately successful retrieval it was apparent that the players were enjoying themselves as much as the punters.

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