Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Twelfth Night @ Curve

Director: Sean Holmes
Music and Sound: Tom Haines and Ross Hughes
Creator: Filter
Writer: William Shakespeare

Seeing a play without knowing the story line and still not knowing it afterwards but enjoying it anyway is a new wonder to me.

I saw Twelfth Night as a chance to get over a long deeply rooted fear of Shakespeare’s work but came away from Curve on the show’s opening night feeling even more bemused but wanting to find out more.

International touring company Filter has brought their marvellously fantastical play to Leicester this week.

Twelfth Night synopsis:
Olivia’s melancholic, puritanical household clashes head on with Sir Toby’s insatiable appetite for drunken debauchery. Orsino’s relentless pursuit of Olivia and Malvolio’s extraordinary transformation typify the madness of love in Illyria: land of make-believe and illusion.

Stepping into Curve’s studio is always like putting your hand in a lucky-dip. You never know what you’re going to get and nine times out of ten it’s something that no one else will have.

Monday night was no different. The performance stage was littered with wires and musical gadgetry’s and people wearing ordinary 21st century clothes.
It’s hard to describe the whole show because it was so frantic the 90-minutes went by in a flash but I’ll tell you some elements that stuck out.

I knew it was going to have a contemporary twist and I hoped the language would be so too but throughout they stayed true to Shakespeare.

Speaking to Ollie Dimsdale, who played Toby Belch, over coffee the next day, he said, “We’ve been touring with this one since the RSC asked us to perform at the Complete Works Festival in 2006. We often get people asking how much of Shakespeare’s own words do we use and they’re surprised when we say 99 per cent.”

He added, “Because the show comes across as if it was written yesterday people who know the story well are shocked to hear lines they never knew were in the original works.”

Ollie’s character, Toby, was staggering around the stage and up the studio steps to the audience and portrayed a very amusing drunk. But Ollie said, “Our aim is not just to show a jolly drunk but to show the darker more destructive side of being an alcoholic.”

There was a lot of audience participation including youngsters being pulled up to wear velcro hats while the rest of the audience were given foam balls to throw at them. Whilst this was happening the characters were singing and performing and then a Dominoes pizza deliverer hands out pizzas to the audience.

Later on two men are plucked from the audience to join Toby in a Tequila drinking contest.

It was very raucous and outlandish. I was totally stunned by everything that was going on and the whole show gelled together for me because of the sounds and music.

Ferdy Roberts, who played Malvolio a character who was ridiculed and made out to be a mad man, said, “You often have the musicians hidden away and it’s almost like you’re saying their less important but to us they’re just as important as the actors.”

He added, “Ollie and I went to Guildhall School of Music together and you get the actors hanging around together and the musicians hanging around together. But we found that all so pertinacious. We used to go to the pub with the musicians who would be themselves and so down to earth it was great.”

Ferdy and Ollie, who are also the founders of Filter, plan to re-launch their eco-show Water and tour with a new show called Silence which will tackle the differences between British culture and Russia next year. I hope to see the company return to Curve to show us some more of their diversities.

You have four days left to see this show in Leicester before Filter continues the tour up to Lancaster. Great show was an entertaining night out.

The performance will run until Saturday, October 16 with shows at 7.30pm and a matinee at 2.30pm on Saturday. Tickets cost between £14.50-£24.50, concessionary discounts available.

For more information or tickets visit or phone 0116 242 3595.

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