Passionate excess

20th June 1997 at 01:00
Twelfth NightNorthern Stage Company, Newcastle Playhouse.The director of this + production, Alan Lyddiard, cites Theatre de Complicite, the Russian Maly + company and Baz Luhrmann's recent film of Romeo and Juliet as stylistic + influences. In place of Feste's less durable jokes there's visual clowning - + Paul Hunter, playing Sir Toby, trained at the influential Lecoq mime school. In+ recent years there have been Twelfth Nights light and dark. This one is, says + its director, "not truly dark - but deeply passionate".The key comes in the + second line - "Give me excess of it". "Passion here is very excessive; + characters are really sad, excited, sexy. " In support, he notes only excess + could lead Sir Andrew to imagine he could marry Olivia. Sir Toby and Maria will+ be very tactile - "they can't stop going for each other."The production picks + up Viola's words of longing for Orsino - "So desperate for my master's love". + Viola is the character who expresses her feelings in soliloquies so Lyddiard is+ making her the bridge between play and audience. "The play really starts when + Viola runs on with 'What country, friends, is this?' "Unlike Viola, says + Lyddiard, Malvolio in his letter scene solo is not confiding in the audience. + Northern Stage's Malvolio is "a total killjoy who suddenly is made an ass. He's+ the janitor, the taxman or traffic warden; it's fantastic to see him (and by + proxy them) get their comeuppance. But his tormentors take their practical joke+ too far, treating him abominably."We may not like Sir Toby very much by the + end when this, "villain and loveable rogue gets Feste to sort problems out. And+ he treats Sir Andrew awfully." It's not impossible, Lyddiard believes, to + finish by being anti-Sir Toby and pro-Malvolio.Meanwhile, at Orsino's we find a+ man's man, who, "like Newcastle lads on a Saturday night, likes being macho + and believes a woman can't love like a man. It's his laddish 'men are important+ I can have a woman like that' which is offended by Olivia's refusal to fall at+ his feet. No wonder he's furious when he finds that she's marrying his + servant. "Timothy RamsdenJune 21-July 12. Tickets: 0l9l 230 5151

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