Friday, 14 July 2017

Twelfth Night | Grand Theatre

Twelfth Night is definitely one of my favourite Shakespeare plays (up there with As You Like It and A Comedy of Errors but that's a story for another post!) so when I saw that the Watermill Theatre were bringing a contemporary musical take of the play to my local theatre I couldn't resist picking myself up a ticket. Entering the auditorium, even before the performance has fully begun, I felt transported to a dusky jazz club with actors milling around the audience and serenading us with bluesy music. It created an intimate and relaxed atmosphere that set the scene for the rest of the performance.

What sets this production aside from others is that the music almost takes centre stage. It is well known that Shakespeare traditionally used songs in his plays but the Watermill Theatre production uses music not only as background noise or to move the plot along but for pure entertainment purposes. The actors all sing, dance and play a variety of instruments (including saxophone, cello, drums and guitar) so it's easy to appreciate their talent. As the play is a comedy I think it just worked so well to keep the overall mood bright and the song choices were all really well-suited to the piece.

Visually I also thought this production was beautiful. The set looked fairly simple but was innovatively used and, combined with interesting lighting states, was just a pleasure to watch. The acting was high quality and I really enjoyed that some of the characters were gender-swapped. It was a Shakespeare production like no other I've seen and I really enjoyed it.

The Watermill Theatre are also touring Romeo and Juliet with the same cast so you have two chances in each venue to catch these unusual productions. Twelfth Night is playing at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre tonight (there's still tickets left so check out the website to snap some up!) before heading to a couple more venues on the tour. Check out their website for more details.

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