Twelfth Night

Castle Gardens, Norwich

Castle Gardens, Norwich

The vicissitudes of life and love made a beguiling spectacle on Saturday, with Heartbreak productions' satisfyingly manic inter-pretation of Shakespeare's bittersweet comedy.

In the household of Olivia and that of Orsino, Duke of Illyria, appetites are indulged and topsyturvydom embraced, but not everyone relishes the merry confusion…

The play's subtitle, What You Will, seems to have been taken as a challenge by director Andy Cresswell, his Illyria being an outlandish dayglow “theme park of obsessions”, incorporating a hand-festooned big wheel.

Here Orsino is a green-quiffed Elvis-alike and Sir Toby Belch a debauched Brian Blessed wearing a traffic cone. Yet the play's famous ambiguity is heightened by the madcap approach, a strain of brittle desperation forever undercutting the high spirits. Music may be the food of love, but what if the record is scratched?

The cast, who intermittently take up instruments including clarinet and kazoo for sprightly musical segments, are as thoughtful and imaginative as the production as a whole.

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Gabrielle Meadows conveys flustered, repressed passion as Viola/Cesario, and Malvolio is a sour-faced prig who, in his long black robe, creepily slithers as if on casters.

Presiding over all, however, is Dan McGarry's jerkily gesticulating Feste, who resembles no one so much as a non-gurning, non-annoying Jim Carrey.

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