Review: Twelfth Night, Wilton’s Music Hall

The Watermill Theatre’s 2017 production of Twelfth Night is revived to glorious effect in the atmospheric surroundings of Wilton’s Music Hall

“If music be the food of love, play on…”

I was absolutely blown away by the Watermill’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream back in May, and so the news that their similarly actor-muso Twelfth Night from last year would be being revived at Wilton’s Music Hall was most welcome. And if it doesn’t quite live up to the magic of that first time for me, it is still a most enchanting and unmistakably bold take on the play 

Paul Hart’s production relocates Illyria to the 1920s, jazz is flourishing, prohibition is rife and the shadows of WWI haven’t quite yet dissipated. Katie Lias’ design concentrates the action in the Elephant Jazz Club and the historic atmosphere of Wilton’s proves perfect for this treatment. And without giving too much away, the dipping down into the audience is done brilliantly. 

Chief among the innovations here is Lauryn Redding’s casting as Sir Toby, her highly assured performance puts an intelligent and engaging spin on a character that can often seem overly boorish. There’s no mistaking her sexual connection with Victoria Blunt’s Maria either, a neat reminder of the true sexual fluidity that underpins this play however you want to play it. 

Peter Dukes’ Malvolio provides another unique interpretation and one that has to be seen to be believed, particularly where his yellow stockings are concerned. And the music threaded throughout every beat of the production wisely doesn’t limit itself to the ’20s, drawing instead on a wide range of influences, even including some original compositions which slot in seamlessly next to Ella and Duke. Recommended.

Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes (with interval)
Twelfth Night is booking at Wilton’s Music Hall until 22nd September 

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