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.