DVD Review: What You Will

“It’s brilliant not to be me”

On my way to Bristol to see Filter take on Macbeth, I thought I would take the opportunity to watch What You Will, a mockumentary that follows an innovative theatre company as they put on a touring production of Twelfth Night. It comes off a little like the behind-the-scenes episode of Acorn Antiques as actors play actors who are in turn acting, so Ferdy Roberts plays a guy called Greg who plays Malvolio in the show – it’s a disarming and discombobulating approach which never quite settles in my opinion.

This devised approach clearly has great appeal for the Filter company and the way they work but it is hard not to think that it overcomplicates the matter somewhat. For when it just plays out, it is really very amusing. The trials of a touring theatre company – the precious egos, the heavy drinking, the thwarted ambitions, the strained relationships, the poor ticket sales, the last minute crises, all are played out as they travel the country touring their show professionally but barely holding it together personally.

I love any opportunity to see old hands Ferdy Roberts, Oliver Dimsdale, Poppy Miller, Victoria Moseley et al but the real pleasure comes in the varied experience of company understudies Sandy Foster and Alex Avery. It’s clearly a niche product – you do need to have seen Filter’s Twelfth Night for it really to work and though the presence of Romola Garai and Dominic West may superficially extend its appeal, the talking head versions of themselves remain Filter-centric. It passed the time on the journey quite amiably but I’d hesitate before recommending it whole-heartedly.

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