Friday, May 02, 2014

Lithe Young Men Cavorting in Their Underpants

If your fancy turns towards lithe young men cavorting in their underpants then the Abbey's current production of Twelfth Night is the place for you. Even if it doesn't, I'd go along anyway. The director Wayne Jordan (sounds like an early Sixties pop star) lays on the homosexual sub-text with a trowel. We even get a finale where the entire cast cavort in their underpants like followers of Isadora Duncan and then bizarrely all take a shower together - a bathhouse reference no doubt.  But in the meantime we all, gay and straight, have a lot of fun. It's hard not to love this play for the language alone: the rapid fire badinage and the memorable lines. Sir Toby Belch providing many of them describing Maria as: "a beagle through bred". You may have qualms about  the prolonged abuse of poor Malvolio but we're not really taking any of it too seriously - just enjoying the ride. There are of course lacunae and it's too bloody long. The main technical problem is convincing the audience that Sebastian and Viola are as identical as all the characters in the play regard them. This production gets closer than most in this regard - but it's always an issue. Nick Dunning is brilliant as Sir Toby Belch even if I would expect someone as partial to "cakes and ale" to be a tad more rotund. Maybe they should have given him a pillow - but then of course he couldn't have done his climactic shower scene at the end. Malvolio played by Mark O'Halloran damn nearly steals the show - he's every inch the actor, down to his yellow stockings and cross-garters. Anyone who doubts Shakespeare's ability to give us a good laugh these days should head along there. Avoid the coffee in the bar though - probably the worst in Dublin - coloured water. And as for the bombastic prick doing the pre-show announcements, somebody needs to retune him. If we want to be hectored we'll go to a Greek tragedy.