Twelfth Night

By John Nathan, September 12, 2008

Tricycle Theatre, London NW6

You could be forgiven for thinking you have walked into the wrong theatre. An electric double bass dominates the stage. To its left is a set of drums, to its right a bank of synthesizer keyboards. Not exactly the traditional stage design for a production of one of Shakespeare's best-loved comedies. But then the Filter company's 80-minute version of a play that normally takes almost three hours is not exactly traditional.

The cast take to the stage as if we are in for an impromptu jazz session. And we are. But then Shakespeare's play emerges in a beautiful duet between Poppy Miller's storm-tossed Viola and a transistor radio that responds to her questions while giving the shipping forecast. Purists who like their Shakespeare in the classical style can relax. Sean Holmes's production, which was first seen as part of the RSC's 2006 Complete Works Festival, has made irreverent cuts, but it is respectful to the text, even if some of this show's digressions are a little left field.

Exactly why the evening launches into a rendition of the 60s pop instrumental Tequila is not immediately clear. But who would want to poop this party with complaints about the odd fun-loving indulgence?
It is a little harder to let slide Syreeta Kumar's underpowered Olivia. But more importantly, Filter never forsakes the play's tender heart, even when Jonathan Broadbent's acrobatic Sir Andrew Aguecheek risks limb if not life by back-flipping across the Tricycle's stage. Enjoy.

(Tel: 020 7328 1000)

    Last updated: 1:00pm, September 11 2008