What You Will

Shrewsbury School here lives up to its gleaming reputation with a technically flawless production. Their telling of Twelfth Night, cleverly titled using the play's alternative name, is of the highest quality in every respect. Gleaming vocals, beautiful couture and the work of, I suspect, a dozen stage hands feature in this show.Most importantly, of course, the rendering of the plot is marvellous – never have I ever seen a cleaner, clearer exposition of the storyline; and Twelfth Night's a complex one, what with all the deception amidst the general tomfoolery and skulduggery.It was a pleasure to watch, a real treat for the eyes and the ears. Each cast member possesses the necessary empathy and intelligence to really engage with their part and bring it to life. All size parts were artfully played, each actor bringing in something personal.The role of Antonio was highly emotionally charged and for once didn't seem oddly under-developed. Gus Haynes's solo brought shivers to my spine, caressing every note and delivering it beautifully.Maria (Hebe Dickins) and Sir Toby (Ed Key) are brilliant as the agents of conspiracy, as were the Festes (an unusual choice to have two, but having them as Artful Dodger types did work), Rob Cross and Ali Webb. The Festes' voices were the strongest male vocals, so it was wise to manipulate the role of Feste into a narrator of sorts, as it gave them more stage time and opportunity to showcase their talents.Malvolio's melodrama brought the house down, his pomp and ceremony played out wonderfully. His singing style reflected his role nicely, overly florid and operatic, and complementary to Olivia. At no point did he seem like a boy or an actor pretending to be someone else. It was most fascinating.A paragraph must go to our leading lady, Viola (Izzy Osborne), whose voice was heavenly. A beautiful actress, she captured the essence of her character fantastically, conveying the torment Viola feels at being torn between loyalty to, and love for, Orsino.The score is a real triumph. The script is cleverly and skilfully adapted into song form, with each song enhancing the emotions felt in what is really a series of private monologues, perfectly suited to a musical presentation. There are a couple of numbers with an inspired coming-together of the the play’s themes, which gently reminds you what’s going on and refocuses the dramatic tension, as well the wonderful duet between Cesario and Olivia that I’d been wanting, and a rousing anthem at the end.

Reviews by Fen Greatley

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The Blurb

Storm and shipwreck, love and lost illusions. Shakespeare's ravishing comedy 'Twelfth Night' transformed into music and song. Fringe First winners return with 'A triumph - wonderful' ( Shropshire Star). 'Marvellous' ***** (ThreeWeeks on 'The Bubble', 2009). www.shrewsbury.org.uk

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