The University of Brighton’s Drama Society served up laughs in their rendition of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Set on a tropical island, the stage was adorned with beach chairs and Hawaiian flowers and actors were dressed in floral shirts and summer shorts. Performed in St. Mary’s Church, the location seemed odd but worked out. The vast space caused the voice to travel, and even the quietest of actors didn’t need a mic. I asked director Matthew Foster why they went with the church for their performance, and he informed me he liked the uniqueness of the space and instantly knew he wanted to put the show on there.
Student actors gave a better performance than professional actors
The best part of the show was the acting. I was shocked that student actors gave a better performance than many professional actors I’ve seen in live theatre. The strongest performer was hands down Diarmuid Burke, who played Sir Toby. He truly embodied the character of a drunk and fun uncle, giving the character his own quirks through body language. The best scenes were those paired with Jack Nolan, playing the servant Maria. Nolan, again, gave the character such a strong and hilarious personality that I got excited every time he came on stage for a scene. In general, the casting was amazing, and the strongest actors were assigned to the main roles. Other honourable mentions are Beth Chandler, who flawlessly played the role of strict-to-mad Malvolio, and Jordan Lewis, who successfully opened the play with his desperate love speech.
However, no performance is perfect. There were a few stutters here and there, but the biggest flaw was the use of props. In a scene where Malvolio is meant to be imprisoned with the fool of the play, who is pretending to be someone else talking to him, they both simply sat at opposite sides of the stage and looked straight forward. To someone who is unfamiliar with the play, this would just be confusing. Even having some cardboard poles to act as bars would better create the illusion.
Despite this, the play was still extremely enjoyable, and I truly urge anyone to experience the University of Brighton’s Drama Society in action. If you missed them this Fringe, they put on a show every year, so catch them next time or look out for their performances sprinkled throughout the year.