They’re heading for Sherborne

“SHAKESPEARE has left us nothing so joyful and nothing so lovely,” says director John Crabtree of the dark comedy, Twelfth Night, which is being staged by Amateur Players at the Sherborne Studio Theatre from Monday 4th to Saturday 9th December, at 7.30pm with a Saturday matinee at 2.30.

But it is a play with dark undercurrents, with cruelty among the laughs – we know that Malvolio is a pompous snob, but we do feel uncomfortable about his utter humiliation and we do sympathise a bit with the teasing of the gullible Sir Andrew.

Interestingly, says the director, during the 30s, 40s and 50s, productions tended to whitewash the cruelty, madness and maliciousness and even to cut the scenes: “Today we have started to view the play from an altogether different perspective. Directors have begun to peer into the darker corners of the text to uncover gender and identity issues, sexual ambiguity in relationships and the prospect of incompatibility and potential unhappiness.”

Viola is played by Poppy Vera with Lewis Willis as her twin brother Sebastian. Richard Jones is Duke Orsino, Sheenu Das is Olivia, Carl Davies plays St Toby Belch, Bev Taylor-Wade is Maria and Freddie Wopat is Sir Andrew Aguecheek, with Mary Flanagan as Olivia’s servant and clown Feste. Patrick Knox will bring dignity (and doubtless a little essential pomposity) to the part of Malvolio.

There may be dark undertones, but there are also lots of laughs and romance. As the director says: “No play is more Shakespearean or more English. It combines poetry and prose, tragedy and comedy, joy and grief, tricks and tomfoolery with bereavement, disappointment, solitude and sorrow.”

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