Twelfth Night is no doubt one of the theatre highlights of 2012. I love to see shows at The Globe (as a ‘groundling’ no less!) and the chance to see an authentic male-only production with such a talented cast was one I could not miss at just £5 for a ticket. Twelfth Night sees the return of one of the greatest living stage actors, Mark Rylance, once more in the role of Olivia. He is joined by household names Stephen Fry as Malvolio and Roger Lloyd-Pack (Trigger from Only Fools And Horses!) as Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
The play begins with a young lady called Viola being washed up to shore as a result of a shipwreck. She has become stranded from her twin brother Sebastian and disguises herself has a young man named Cesario and finds shelter at the house of Duke Orsino. The Duke is in love with an eccentric, wealthy woman called Olivia whose father has recently died and she has promised not to marry for seven years. Orsino requests Cesario to to visit Olivia to pass on his request of marriage, but Olivia instead falls for Cesario / Viola believing her to be a man. Meanwhile, Olivia's Uncle Sir Toby Belch and his friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek, plot their revenge on Olivia's pompous steward Malvolio by making him believe that she is in love with him.
What follows is a chaotic story of romance, mistaken identity and naughty
tricks. The cast are all clearly having a ball, playing up to the audiences
laughter. One of the funniest scenes includes Belch, Aguecheek and Feste spying on Malvolio, hideen in a hedge. The male-only cast adds extra humour to the play and is of course
how it would have been performed in Shakespeare’s day. It is easy to see how
the brother and sister can be mistaken for each other by fellow characters with
their pale make-up and wigs – at times it took me a couple of seconds to work
out which one was entering the stage.
Being a groundling is great fun, as you are so close to the action and it is a
great authentic experience, but with Shakespeare’s long plays it can be a trial
to keep on enjoying the show while standing and not be counting down the scenes
in the second act. Next time I may upgrade to a more comfortable sounding
The Globe’s season is completely sold-out with some tickets being available for
purchase on the day if you’re lucky. Twelfth Night is then transferring to the
warmer Apollo for the winter, so I highly recommend trying to get tickets for
For more informationon Twelth Night see www.shakespearesglobe.com/theatre/on-stage/twelfth-night-2012