Twelfth Night

Worcester Rep

Worcester Cathedral


‘Twelfth night takes it title from the last day of the Christmas celebrations. It was a holiday and therefore a day for revelry: servants dressed up as their masters, men as women , the Lord of Misrule allowed for disruption of the natural order, wild drinking and mummery.

Shakespeare’s story of the twins, Sebastian and Viola, shipwrecked on the coast of Illyria and separated, each thinking the other drowned, is the basis for a tale of mistaken identities that is reminiscent of ‘The Comedy of Errors’.

Viola disguises herself as a young man, still almost a boy. In that guise Olivia, the countess who has determined to abjure the company of men because of the death of her father and brother, falls in love with her, the disguised youth who has adopted the name Cesario. Viola has been employed by the Count Orsino to act as a go-between to represent him and to protest his love for Olivia. However Viola in disguise falls for the Count and so the confusions abound.

The subplot is focused around Olivia’s household, her servants and her cousin Sir Toby Belch. He is a drunken sot who, with his friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Maria and the fool Feste, determines to embarrass and humiliate Olivia’s self- important butler, Malvolio.

This production is full of life and good humour, traditional in its interpretation and colourfully costumed. Its great merit is that the verse is well-spoken and clear. All the cast give effective expression to the text, project well and enable the audience to enjoy the story thoroughly as a consequence.


Jonathan Darby as Malvolio in his yellow stockings and cross garters

The setting in the cathedral is imposing and that creates an august and other-worldly atmosphere. There is consequently no set, but effective and efficient use is made of the steps, the tomb and the few simple props.  The role of the fool, Feste, becomes very key in this production and this is brilliantly performed by Heidi Gowthorpe. With her simple guitar chords, delightful voice and the songs, she introduces and punctuates the play in a light, comical and charming way.

Alongside Feste, we have the team of misrule in Sir Toby (John-Robert Partridge), Sir Andrew (Murray Andrews) and Maria (Matilda Bott). Individually and together they form a brilliant team who provide much of the humour in the evening. They explode on to, off and around the stage wit robustious energy and noise. Their plot to humble Malvolio is executed with fitting hilarity.

This is a thoroughly entertaining production of an old classic and does not disappoint. It runs till Saturday 20th. Take a coat!

Tim Crow


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