A Trigger for laughter and tears

Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, a Globe on Screen theatre production filmed at London’s famous Globe Theatre, will show at Peebles’ Eastgate Theatre on Thursday, February 6, at 7pm.

Stephen Fry and Mark Rylance lead an all-male cast in director Tim Carroll’s production of William Shakespeare’s moving comedy of loss and misplaced love, filled with unforgettable characters.

The late comic actor Roger Lloyd Pack, who starred as Trigger in Only Fools And Horses, also gave “a deliciously absurd and poignant” performance as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, the Eastgate’s Liz Taylor said.

Fry plays Malvolio, capturing the puffed up conceit and pomposity of the character.

Commenting on Fry’s performance at the Broadway premier in New York, Ben Brantley for the New York Times, said: “Contrary to most versions of Twelfth Night, the foibles of these characters are never exaggerated into grotesqueness, just as the men playing women do not speak in falsettos or flounce about.

“Even the puritanical Malvolio, usually an ugly gargoyle, is refreshingly embodied by Mr Fry with the complacency and affectation of someone you might recognise from your own office. When he becomes the target of a sadistic revenge plot, for once you feel for the guy.

“I can’t remember being so ridiculously happy for the entirety of a Shakespeare performance. This is how Shakespeare was meant to be done.”

Marilyn Stasio, for Variety, wrote: “If the tragic seems comic in Richard III, the comic becomes tragic in Twelfth Night, largely due to the compassionate view that Stephen Fry takes of the melancholy Malvolio.

“Instead of mocking Olivia’s haughty steward for his pride and vanity (‘I will be proud!’ sounds more like a weak, pathetic cheer than a boast), Fry dares to acknowledge the feelings of inadequacy that make this gloomy fellow such an easy victim.”

The production was described in the Daily Telegraph as among all-time Shakespeare greats. In the plot, following a shipwreck, twins Viola and Sebastian are separated, with each assuming the other is dead. Viola disguises herself as a man in order to serve in the court of Orsino, the Duke of Illyria, who sends her to woo the beautiful Countess Olivia on his behalf.

Olivia is in mourning after the loss of her brother and has turned away all suitors, until she becomes instantly enamoured with Viola, now known as Cesario. Meanwhile, Olivia’s drunken uncle, Sir Toby, decides to play a trick on her uptight servant, Malvolio, with hilarious results, in this rollicking tale of mistaken identity and unrequited love.

Shakespearean thesp Rylance plays the grieving Olivia offering pure comic delight in a “dazzling high definition performance”, the Daily Telegraph reviewer said.

“Filled with a cast of unforgettable characters,” a Globe spokesperson added. “Twelfth Night combines cruelty with high comedy and the pangs of unrequited love with some of the subtlest poetry and most exquisite songs Shakespeare ever wrote. This Original Practices production explores the clothing, music, dance and settings that were possible in the Globe around 1601.”

Twelfth Night is followed by the outrageous comedy The Taming of the Shrew on Thursday March 13. Tickets can book in advance from www.eastgatearts.com, or by calling the Eastgate Theatre’s box office on 01721 725777.