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Twelfth Night - 60s Style

Maria (Christa Gaskell); Feste (Chloe Jane Wiltshire); Sir Toby Belch (Noel Dollimore). Photo courtesy of Second Thoughts Drama Group.

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, a Second Thoughts Drama Production. Performed at The Bear Pit Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, 3-6 July 2024. Directed by Amanda Laidler.

Review by Charles Essex


A twin sister and brother being separated following a shipwreck leads to a love triangle with inevitable farcical consequences.  Viola (Georgina Monk) is rescued but disguises herself as a man, Cesario, and works as righthand man to the Duke, Orsino (Michael Thompsett).  Viola loves Orsino but he loves Countess Olivia (Stephanie Jepson) and sends Cesario as envoy to convey his amour.  A straightforward task – until Olivia falls in love with Cesario.


Georgina was superb as she conveyed her inner thoughts with genuine emotion producing a nuanced and engaging performance as Viola, who was frustrated at her unrequited love for Orsino, and conflicted by her duty to convey his love for Olivia.  Olivia portrayed her desperate passion for Cesario, unaware of the benign deception of the object of her affection.  One could feel Olivia’s feelings of infatuation for, as she thought, Cesario.


Buffoons SirToby Belch (Noel Dollimore) and Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Ian McLean), who sponged off the generosity of Olivia, were the architects of a sub plot to deflate the pomposity of Olivia’s steward Malvolio (Tim Raistrick).  The three men were like main characters from Last of the Summer Wine, with Noel and Ian giving just the right amount of mischief and lechery to their machinations and humorous plots against Malvolio, whom Tim depicted with appropriate conceit. 

Malvolio (Tim Raistrick), Olivia ( Stephanie Jepson). Photo courtesy of the Second Thoughts Drama Group.


Chloe Jane Wiltshire, with an excellent singing voice, splendid expressions and almost marionette-like movements, was wonderful in her depiction as Feste the fool. 


This was set in 1969, but that was only really obvious from the programme notes, the pop music and one or two items of clothing (there were no flared trousers or Afghan coats).  There were intriguing boxes on stage and unusual props such as characters holding a magazine, notepad and pen.  It was not clear why, or what, all these brought to this production.  That notwithstanding, the cast did very well and deserved the warm applause.


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