Garden party

26th May 1995 at 01:00
Twelfth Night, Royal Theatre Touring, Northampton.

The Bard in tweeds. Village hall Shakespeare. Lynn Wyfe and Rebakah Janes set Twelfth Night in a 1920s garden, dominated by the amorous posing of a cupid statue.

The Illyrians become the Bertie Wooster group. Richard Gay's perky Orsino fills the days with tennis, golf and shooting. The actor doubles as a screw-faced Malvolio, somewhat too stuck in the rut of his stuck-up voice. There's more cross-dressing than usual. Janet George, whose Olivia clearly defines love's effect in the near simultaneous contrast of her smile at Cesario and tetchiness towards Orsino, is also a braying, monocled Aguecheek.

Jonathan Wyatt's Sir Toby is physically brave, standing up to Antonio and Sebastian, but loses his nerve over Olivia's disapproval. Earlier his not so playful pushing of Sir Andrew and angry outburst against Malvolio (he frightens his cronies) have uncomic tension.

Terence Harte's muscular Sebastian fits uncomfortably into a maid's uniform as Maria - in hisher pinafore it's unlikely Cesario would mistake her for the lady of the house. Two identity tricks - one with the casting of Mr Harte plus Donna Harte, as a too neutral Viola. The other is splitting the officer who arrests Antonio, a seedy, moustachioed 'tac, between two actors.

"Ain't Misbehaving" is the ironic signature tune, and there's an upbeat "When that I was" to end. More colourful versions there have been, but this is penny plain, not dreadful.

Tours Northamptonshire venues to June 17. Runs 212 hours. Details: 01604 27566.

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