Theatre Review: 4/5 stars
Shakespeare would have clambered out of his grave to see General Orsino and Commander Olivia battle over a two-timer whilst everyone around them loses the plot, their keys, and free entry to Sugar.
Three Left Feet’s adaptation of Twelfth Night does well to explore the wonders of Shakespeare’s humour with a 40s twist and Lancastrian undertones. Engaging with the fluidity of gender and the art of miscommunication, Lara Orriss (director) transports Viola (Jayran Lear) and Sebastian (Sam Pitcher) to wartime Illyria, where they will ironically woo the same woman.
Set in Williamson Park, Three Left Feet produced an incredible stage, although minimalist in its approach, centred around a war green tent, the main focus fell on Olivia’s camp. In a bid to create a degree of division between the camps of Olivia and Orsino, the only mention of Orsino’s was a sign pointing deeper into the woods.
Ideally, the production would have allowed the audience to physically travel between the two camps given its rich potential as a set within Williamson Park. They could have even placed the two camps side-by-side on stage, since although the illusion of Orsino’s camp was adequate it was uninspired compared to the promotion of the production around Lancaster.
After the shipwreck, Viola washes ashore where she considers what to do with her day. Mourn her supposedly drowned brother or turn in her naval beret for military khakis?
Mourning was short-lived and the beret was abandoned as officer Viola begins her new life serving General Orsino (Frederick Bloy) as his second-in-command.
Viola is widely considered one of the most vivacious characters in Twelfth Night as she is forced to reinvent herself as a man. Jayran Lear did well to translate this in her opening performance, drawing upon her quick sense of humour to provide a character that wholeheartedly read as a woman in a man’s disguise. From the voice breaks to her body language, Lear captured the comedy and charisma of disguise so naturally that she quickly became an audience favourite.
As the adaptation progressed, it was wonderful to see the cast support one another to produce some incredible scenes, especially Andrew Holt with Tom Wilson and Emilia Kenton.
In fact Holt, Wilson and Kenton’s prank on Malvolia (Naomi Broadbent) was one of the best performances of the night – even without the classic yellow stockings.
Overall, Three Left Feet’s production of Twelfth Night was a tremendous success. Special mentions must go to Andrew Holt whose depiction of Major Toby was exceptional and Jayran Lear for her sheer versatility.