A warm, funny and vibrant version of Shakespeare’s comedy of mistaken identities and interwoven love lives that’s an antidote to the idea that Shakespeare is boring.
Young actress Rose Reynolds more than holds her own against a classy cast in the role of Viola, who poses as a young man, Cesario, to find work after she is shipwrecked.
The shipwreck is skilfully conveyed through imaginative use of the few props on the sparse set.
Viola, as Cesario, works for Duke Orsino (an impressive Jake Fairbrother) and has to plead his love to Olivia, who promptly falls for the lad instead. Rebecca Johnson entertainingly moves swiftly from uninterested shrew to foxy vamp.
Her confusion is mirrored by Orsino, disconcerted to find he is also falling for Cesario. A moment where Cesario and Orsino’s hands touch is well done and poignant with possibilities.
This is the play with the famous line “If music be the food of love, play on”. Grant Olding’s lovely score is beautifully performed by Brian Protheroe as shrewd fool Feste.
Under Jonathan Munby’s clever direction, the cast play it for laughs, uproariously at times, but never at the expense of the drama.
David Fielder has a great time gleefully scene stealing as drunken uncle Sir Toby Belch. Milo Twomey has to work hard to keep up as his sidekick Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
Dona Croll is very strong as Olivia’s lady in waiting Maria, giving the men as good as she gets when she heads a plot to humiliate uptight servant Malvolio. He’s played by the excellent Hugh Ross, struggling vainly to maintain his dignity in boxer shorts and yellow stockings.