On a lovely summer’s evening, we found ourselves washed up, not in Illyria, as Viola and Sebastian were, but a private garden in west London for the Shakespeare in the Squares’ performance of Twelfth Night

Credit: James Millar

This adaptation brought us to the 1920s fit with flapper dressers and boaters. The script included a few clever, subtle quips and references to the era, much to the amusement of the audience. 

With relatively simple staging, the onus was on the ensemble cast to transport us to Illyria, and they did so fantastically. The show was filled with music performed by the ensemble with many actors seemingly able to play every instrument on stage! 

Credit: James Millar

The leading ladies, Lucy Ireland (in the role of Viola) and Carys McQueen (in the role of Olivia), were the only actors not doing double duty performing two roles due to their much larger parts. As Viola hides her identify as the eunuch Cesario, we are treated to Ireland’s fantastic physical comedy. Her over the top ‘masculine’ postering throughly delighted the audience. 

Credit: James Millar

Another actor who deserves credit for their physical comedy is Fred Thomas (in the role of Sir Andrew). Thomas performs as both Sir Andrew and as Sebastian and the distinction between the two characters is night and day. Thomas hams up the jokes as Sir Andrew and yet plays Sebastian as infinitely suave. 

Toby Gordon (in the Role of Sir Toby and the Count Oscino), along with McQueen, thrives in the melodrama that we know and love of Shakespeare’s comedies. Both actors are able to project their voices very well, a much needed skill when taking to the stage outside. Others in the cast were not quite as successful in this and it did sometimes result in play performed at two different volumes. Perhaps if the others are not able to project as well, then it may be up to McQueen and Gordon to tone down their skill to have more cohesion in the ensemble. 

Credit: James Millar

Shakespeare in the Squares is always a fantastic evening, and Twelfth Night is no exception. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Find more dates and locations here!

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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