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Twelfth Night

Set in a Hardy-esque English countryside, circa 1890, this starts boldly with a shipwreck and scene-setting voice-over from Kingsley's Feste, whose journeyman troubadour and hedgerow philosopher bestrides the piece like a rustic colossus. Shakespeare's greatest comedy is bitter-sweet, involving parted siblings, a fair amount of sexual confusion, which, thankfully, director/adaptor Nunn doesn't turn into a tediously modish essay on cross-dressing and sexuality, and the come-uppance of Hawthorne's churlish Malvolio, which deliberately waters down the heady wine of the joyous ending. Filming the play brings an obvious problem: the point of much of both the comedy and the transcendence relies on the audience wearing the fact that Viola, disguised as a bloke, is the spitting image of her brother Sebastian. An impressive Stubbs does everything in her and the make-up department's power to look like Stephen MacKintosh's young blade, but the attempt still falls short. It's not a terminal problem, however: the direction is assured, and the cast is masterly.

Release details

Duration: 133 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Trevor Nunn
Screenwriter: Trevor Nunn
Cast: Imogen Stubbs
Helena Bonham Carter
Nigel Hawthorne
Ben Kingsley
Richard E Grant
Mel Smith
Imelda Staunton
Toby Stephens
Stephen Mackintosh
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