REVIEW: Twelfth Night at The Spring Arts Centre, Havant

Twelfth Night by Bench Theatre'.The picture is of Melissa Hackney as Viola.
Twelfth Night by Bench Theatre'.The picture is of Melissa Hackney as Viola.
Poet and author Benjamin Zephaniah

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Jacquie Penrose’s production of Shakespeare’s joyous comedy for The Bench is a curious beast.

It looks gorgeous on David Penrose’s rich but simple set and there are some stonking performances, but in a play that revolves very much around one of Shakespeare’s two favourite plot devices – girl-dressed-as-boy – the cross-casting of women as men in some of the masculine roles was a bit bewildering, particularly Leigh Cunningham as Sebastian. I’m not sure I got that.

That’s very much a subjective point of view and it must be said that Miss Cunningham does a fine job as Sebastian.

There’s good work, too, from Ben Tanner, as the besotted Orsino and Archie McKeown as Feste.

I’ve not seen McKeown before; he’s also responsible for the specially-composed music, playing the guitar and singing the songs. And he does it very well.

Acting-wise he’s got his eye in, but needs, perhaps, a little more control.

Alice Corrigan, flashing that gorgeous pre-Raphaelite hair to wonderful effect, is beautifully in control as Olivia and Vincent Adams is your ticket-money with his Malvolio.

He manages the bombast without overplaying and the pain and embarrassment following the trick that is pulled on him is agonisingly real.