The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0251 Tuesday, 29 January 2002
Date: Tuesday, 29 Jan 2002 08:10:43 +0000
Subject: Twelfth Night at Middle Temple Hall
The Globe company's "400th anniversary" production at Middle Temple Hall
is notably chiefly for a miraculous boy-girl-boy Viola. When Eddie
Redmayne (a Cambridge undergraduate, apparently) first appears on the
seashore as Viola, what you see is a boy playing a girl. As Cesario, a
few minutes later, he is a girl playing a boy: the illusion is complete,
secure, unironic and theatrically so much more effective (even in the
case of the same actor) than boy-girl, or boy-woman, that this
production surely gives us a strong reason for Shakespeare's putting so
many of his heroines into breeches. The contrast with the theatrically
dispiriting effect of concept-driven productions (such as Edward Hall's
TN of a couple of years ago), that make the masculinity of the actors
playing the females parts overt, was striking.
Rylance was rather subdued as Olivia, and held himself so stiffly I
wondered if he had a neck injury. The atmosphere surrounding the
production is phoney in the extreme, but the trappings don't matter once
the performance is underway, and occasionally one does (for what it's
worth) get a strong attack of the thought that this could really have
been how it was - which you never get at the Globe itself.
Unfortunately it seems Eddie Redmayne won't be available when this
production reemerges at the Globe in the summer. It is otherwise of
pretty much the usual Globe standard, and comically a bit underpowered.
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