Thurs 6th - Sat 8th December & Thurs 13th - Sat 15th December 1979
Directed by Jacquie Penrose
"Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them". WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE - Twelfth Night.
This comedy was believed to have been written around 1602 but was was not published until its inclusion in the 1623 'First Folio' after Shakespeare's death.
Viola and her twin brother Sebastian have been shipwrecked off the coast of Illyria. Each believes that the other has been drowned. Viola disguises herself as a boy and, under the name of Cesario, enters the service of the duke Orsino. The duke sends Cesario to woo the lady Olivia on his behalf, but Olivia falls in love with the lovely 'boy'. Viola/Cesario, meanwhile, has fallen in love with Orsino. Sebastian is saved by the sea captain Antonio and he too arrives in Illyria. Malvolio, Olivia's steward, disapproves of the other members of her household - her kinsman Sir Toby Belch, his friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek and the jester Feste. Led by the ingenuity of Maria, Olivia's waiting-woman, these three plot Malvolio's downfall. Olivia meets Sebastian and, mistaking him for Cesario, arranges for them to be secretly married. Further confusion follows upon mistakes as to the identity of the twins. Orsino is furious at the apparent falseness of his page, but, with the eventual meeting of the twins, true identities are revealed and Orsino recognises his love for Viola.
Confusion abounds with jealousy, mistaken identity, disguise, comedy, fights and duels in this classic Shakespeare comedy.
This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
|Sir Toby Belch||David Penrose|
|Sir Andrew Aguecheek||Anthony Elliott|
|Sea Captain||Tony Adams|
|Second Officer||Keith Woodason|
|First Officer||Paul Morris|
|Attendant Lord||John Hampson|
|Stage Manager||Jim Charlton|
|Lighting||Terry Cattermole |
|Poster Design||Chris Shaw|
It is said that the modern Yugoslavia is the equivalent of Shakespeare's Illyria. However, there seems to be little about the place that bears any relation to a real country. It is more akin to a fairy land, or even a looking-glass world, where the topsy-turviness of Twelfth Night - traditionally a night of misrule - is entirely suitable. The play is subtitled 'What you will'; it is also a play about fools, about love, about the folly of love and the love of folly.
Audiences at amateur dramatic productions are often impressed by the company's ability to make so much from so little. As the Bench Theatre is not a group with greatness thrust upon it, the latest production, 'Twelfth Night', which opened last night at Havant Arts Centre, worked hard to provide a clever and bright performance. With a nearly bare set and few props, the cast files the small theatre with vitality and energy. The actors, who first appeared in a dark tableau against the background of a quick pace without skimming over dialogue. Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' centres around a love triangle in which the pivotal character is a young woman who masquerades as a man.
The character is handled with modest expertise by Jill Sawyer as Viola, who hides her love for Orsino (Rod James) behind a lad's clothing. David Penrose and Anthony Elliott has a field day with the roguish knights, Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Aided and abetted by Robbie Cattermole (Maria) and Brian Sweatman (Fabian), they weave a cruel plot to embarrass the pompous Malvolio. John Scadding kept a disciplined rein on his role as Malvolio. He made the most of the hilarious character while keeping him constantly pompous and aloof throughout the play. Susie Gibbs, Roger Thurling, and Ray Osborne gave strong straight performances which picked up the dramatic aspect with which all Shakespearian comedies are balanced.
Linda James' costume work provided an effective garb which avoided clashing with the minimal background and set. The production was polished, tasteful and made for an enjoyable evening. Unfortunately, the promised production of Chekhov's 'Three Sisters', which was originally scheduled for March has had to be postponed. However the Bench has promised another production will fill the gap. The Arts Centre has given the Bench Players an excellent venue to present talented amateur dramatics to a sizable audience. Publicity director Mr Tony Czapp said audiences have reached the 500 mark in the theatre. But if high quality productions such as 'Twelfth Night' continue to be presented, the tiny East Street playhouse will become a bit cramped. Performances of 'Twelfth Night' continue tonight, tomorrow and next Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The play begins at 7.30 p.m.
The News, 7th December 1979