Twelfth Night

Date 5th March 2020
Society Wigan Little Theatre
Venue Wigan Little Theatre
Type of Production Play
Director Martin Green


Author: Patricia Connor

The latest production from “Wigan Little Theatre” was  Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” which is usually seen as one of his most popular and enjoyable comedies and this excellent production set in the 1950’s, directed by the talented Martin Green, hit the mark. It was fast-paced and at times very funny. In it’s plot there are cases of mistaken identity, lots of chaos, two drunken mischief makers, and misinformation which is deliberately intended to deceive, however there is a happy ending. 
The story centres on twins, Viola and Sebastian, who are shipwrecked; unfortunately both their parents are drowned, and the twins are separated each believing the other one is dead. Viola finds herself on the shores of Illyria, devastated by the death of her brother Sebastian and her parents, she decides to disguise herself as a boy for safety reasons and calls herself Cesario. Viola, or Cesario as she has become, goes to work as a servant to Duke Orsino and falls in love with him, unfortunately for Viola he is in love with the beautiful Lady Olivia who is grieving for her brother and doesn’t want to know about the Dukes feelings for her. The Duke makes Cesario his envoy to plead his case to Lady Olivia hoping she will change her mind and give him her affections. But in a surprise twist Olivia falls in love with Cesario much to Viola’s dismay. In the meantime Sebastian has been rescued by a fisherman called Antonio who is not on good terms with the Duke, he takes Sebastian into his home and their relationship becomes affectionate especially on Antonio’s part. But against Antonio’s emotional appeal, Sebastian goes to see Duke Orsino Antonio’s enemy, but as the twins look very much alike the Duke mistakes him for Cesario, chaos then ensues during which Sebastian falls in love and marries Olivia who still thinks he is Cesario, but happily all the confusion is eventually resolved and the story ends happily.

Catherine Gelder is excellent in the role of Viola/Cesario while John Waite was suitably aristocratic in the role of Duke Orsino. Colette Davies-Kerwin certainly looked and acted the part of Olivia beautifully and Andrew Holt as Sebastian and Curtis Hardacre as Antonio confidently performed very well in their roles. There is also a subplot to this play as it looks at the clash between the desire for an hedonistic lifestyle fun, drink and frivolity, against the need for correct behaviour, order and taking things seriously. These two sides are represented by two very different important characters, Feste the fool and Malvolio, Olivia’s steward. Happily we were treated to two excellent performances by Caroline McCann as Feste, a fool and Richard Holme who had the smug superiority of the character Malvolio. Other great comedic performances came from Niall Wilkinson  (Sir Toby Belch), Chris Boyle (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), Emma Appleton (Maria, Olivia’s Maid) and John Dudley (Fabian). Two of the funniest scenes which worked well due to very good comic timing and the actors talents were, when Malvolio discovers the note he believes to be from Lady Olivia while Sir Toby, Sir Anthony and Fabian watch and make fun of him behind his back and the other was when Malvolio was strutting around in his yellow socks with criss cross garters. Theses scenes went down very well with the audience. Other enjoyable cameo roles were played by Kian Mokler as Valentine and an officer with John Naughton as the Priest. All the actors worked very well as a team and appeared well rehearsed. Clarity of words and phrasing which is very important with any play, but especially with Shakespeare was good on the whole, however just a constructive comment occasionally it was a little difficult to follow the dialogue as the actor spoke too fast, but this did not spoil my enjoyment.

The set design was very innovative and the show opened with a film of a ship fighting to stay afloat during a storm - the film was projected onto the plain white sides of two carousels put together. There was an excellent painting of the costal view of the island on the back wall. I actually felt I was on a sunny Mediterranean island. To change scenes, the carousels were moved to different positions or they were opened and closed in various different ways, then magically the different sets appeared, the results were impressive which was actually very entertaining in itself. The scenes and Props were changed like a military operation by cast members which all worked smoothly and quickly thus keeping the pace of the production just right. Well done, set designers Martin Green and Peter Hall and all set construction workers.

Also Alan Sharples and John Naughton stage managers and all their backstage workers and crew. This production had a significant amount of delightful recorded music which along with a good lighting plot and sound contributed towards the atmosphere of the play increasing the audience's enjoyment of the play and kept the story moving right along. A lot of thought must have gone into getting the costumes just right for the play, the era and the characters adding authenticity to the production.

Twelfth Night is a story about grief, love and misunderstanding. Even through the play is a comedy, it also teaches us that thoughtless drunken behaviour and making fun of people can have consequences. This was an excellent, very funny production where everyone appeared to work hard to bring this well known play to the stage. Thank you for inviting us, we had a lovely evening.