There are many productions of reimagined Shakespeare plays that try to add a unique twist to the Bard's work. I have seen many such interpretations of
The Lincoln Company have taken a unique twist on Twelfth Night in an imaginative interpretation that works very well
Illyria becomes a record store run by Olivia with the help of Maria and Malvolio. Director Mark Brewer writes, 'Music plays an integral part in this Twelfth Night' and it is very refreshing to see an interpretation that is bold and confident in its ideas. Music is used very effectively throughout, including an enjoyable opening in which short extracts of popular songs are played as each character enters, giving us an amusing glimpse into the nature of every one of them. Seeing Orsino strut around to Hot Chocolate's You Sexy Thing was hilarious!
We can see evidence of how cleverly constructed this production is through its intuitive attention to detail. As a '21st century remix' the show takes advantage of props very well. Vinyl records are a key motif and are used for multiple effects throughout the show. The company also embrace modernity by using telephones, stereos and even Budweiser beer to lift the show into the modern day.
The cast do a good job of breathing energy into the text but, unfortunately, some of them don’t seem to have a firm grasp of the language they are using. In one scene Andrew Aguecheek fumbles over the word "accost" when addressing Maria, but this exchange doesn’t feel deliberately clumsy, as it should, but rather like two actors unsurely reciting words they don’t have a firm understanding of.
Standout performances were delivered by Emily Bickerdike (Viola) and Jay Petherick (Toby Belch) who both own the stage with energy and vitality. Bickerdike's humble Viola is incredibly likeable and she is consistently wrapped in her character, and Petherick's drunken antics as Toby are hysterical. It is a pleasure to watch him stumbling around the stage, commanding the attention of the crowd.
The Lincoln Company have taken a unique twist on Twelfth Night in an imaginative interpretation that works very well, while decisions like making Malvolio female are commendable and bring a lovely up to date feel to the show. A little more attention is needed to keep performances consistent and engaging, but that said it is a thoroughly enjoyable show.