Saturday, 19 June 2010

In Which Shakespeare Rocks (and there are Lions)

So, about three months ago I got the season's brochure from Bath Theatre Royal, and there were a couple of things which looked interesting, so I booked tickets, stuck them on the noticeboard and kind of forgot about them for a while. One of them was Twelfth Night, in a production by Filter Theatre. I hadn't heard of them before - in fact, based on the picture (taken from the Theatre's website) and from having seen mention of the RSC, I was expecting a fairly traditional prodiction.

The theatre is in the process of renovation at present, so there is an odd mix lavish gilt & velvet, and scaffolding and plaster dust!

My first clue that this was unlikely to be the traditional production I was expecting came when I took my seat and saw the curtain was up, showing a stage without backdrop, and only a lots of musical instruments and what looked like a merch table, by way of set dressing.

About 5 minutes into the show the traditional, doublet & hose production went disappeared into the realms of things unmourned and forgotten...

The company is small - 6 actors plus 4 musicians, which meant that several of the actors were pkaying more than one role. In the absence of any costume changes, and having not seen or read the play for some considerable time, having the same person playing both Duke Orsino and Sir Andrew Augecheek confused me a little - I was trying frantically to remember whether Orsino took to drink on being rejected...

Viola borrowed a jacket of a gentleman in the front row of the stalls in order to disguise herself as a man, on her arrival in Illyria, and there was live music and enthusiastic audience participation for the various songs. Imagine a theatre full of people stamping and mexican-waving and singing 'What is love? 'tis not hereafter; present mirth hath present laughter' and you get the general idea.
It was an absolutely fantastic evening - loved seeing all the slightly-disapproving elderly ladies, (all of whom took sharp breaths in and frowned, when they saw the set) sitting near me thawing out and then rocking along!
And I would love to be able to show this to anyone who thinks Shakespeare is boring. I so hope that there are schools taking their pupils to this show (any any other these guys do) and I would love to see them at the Globe Theatre where their propensity for coming into, and involving, the audience would be given full scope.
I think Will would have approved.
The show was quite short, and it wasn't quite dark when I came out of the theatre, so I took some time to check out a few of the Lions currently gracing Bath. This one is to be found by the Thermae Spa.

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