The Lord Chamberlain's Men at the Greville Theatre Club
“Oberon”, just in front of us, had bottled ale, a popular tipple for Tudor playgoers.
Not so sure about the Malvern Water, the Mumm and the Moet. But there was no mistaking the festive nature of this memorable evening.
The Greville Theatre Club had decided to celebrate their 50th birthday by getting someone else to do the entertaining. They went for the best of the touring players, the Lord Chamberlain's men, an all male troupe taking Shakespeare to historic settings.
This year's production is that “improbable fiction” Twelfth Night. As we saw at the Globe a few years ago, this play especially gains from having boys play the girls. Shaun McKee as Viola soon dons the breeches for Cesario, and we relish the double confusion. The wooing scene was superbly done here. Only seven players, so some impressive doubling: Mawgan Giles, for example, managed both Orsino and Maria ! Mark Martin was an upper class twit of an Aguecheek, as well as Sebastian, and Tom Micklen was Antonio, the captain, and a hippy-ish Feste, who sang to his pipe to start the show, and brought a mellifluous melancholy to its close. Malvolio [Paul Brendan] wore a silly hat and a pained expression, with Joe Marsh as his mistress Olivia. The coarse Belch was played with some restraint by Conner Williams.
The verse speaking, and the complex plot, were commendably clear, with many of the less comprehensible lines cut, and the three levels of the portable stage provided good sight lines and swift entrances and exits. The extra songs were relevant and robustly performed.
Martins soared overhead, the church bell tolled the hours as evening fell. This ancient space, bounded by the barn which is the Greville's home, the church and a row of cottages, made this fine production a very special occasion for those of us lucky enough to be there.
Twelfth Night was directed by Andrew Normington.