One would think it does not bode well for a play in which a fake Christmas tree causes some of the greatest amusement.
But when the production surrounding this infamous tree is performed in such a gentle and charming way, with a live music accompaniment, this may be excused.
Gracing us with their first ever performance in Bath, Sun & Moon Theatre bring Twelfth Night (Or What You Will) to the Mission Theatre.
Their interpretation of perhaps Shakespeare’s most delicate play is set at Christmas 1917. Refugee twins Viola and Sebastian are shipwrecked.
Both believing the other to have drowned, they continue their lives separately. Disguising herself as a man, Viola goes into service of Orsino, unaware she and her brother will soon be wrapped up in the twists of love and mistaken identity.
Dropping the play’s story into the raging time of the First World War is a stroke of genius, strengthening the play’s dramatic elements against the often far superior comedic parts (just to mention the Christmas tree again).
Melissa Barrett beautifully portrays a Viola/Cesario exasperated by the undesired interest presented onto them by Olivia (Luisa Wilde). The fact that Barrett neither compromised the masculine nor feminine side also showed a refreshing trust in the audience’s interaction.
Bryony Reynolds definitely won over the hearts of the audience as a scheming Maria and trembling priest. Out of all the cast, I felt she had the greatest command of her character’s position in the play. Every line was delivered with a carefully considered emotional punch.
A clear favourite was, however, the performance of Emerson Pike as Orsino and Sir Toby. I admit that I spent a large part of the play’s first half oblivious to the fact that these two very different characters were played by the same person.
Emerson managed to switch between the brutish drunk and the love-struck soldier so seamlessly it was almost unnerving. A good unnerving.
Some issues with the background sound drowning out parts of dialogue and several sloppy stage exits are surely easy to fine-tune. But with such a talented cast and live music to accompany the play, Sun & Moon Theatre are sure to have an amazing run.
I do hope I haven’t spread confusion mentioning the Christmas tree.
Twelfth Night (Or What You Will) is playing at the Mission Theatre in Bath on the 4th November at 2 pm and 7:30 pm.
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Reviewer: Alexandra Wilbraham | Rating: **** Four Stars
Twelfth Night (Or What You Will) is a Sun & Moon Theatre production at The Mission Theatre.