In what is fast becoming a Thursday night ritual for our times, the National Theatre’s latest streaming marvel in its At Home strand is Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’. Cos it’s his BIRTHDAY! It follows ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’, ‘Jane Eyre’ and ’Treasure Island’ in what has proved to be an unmissable series.
Shakespeare’s bonkers comedy of manners offers all kinds of treats: cross-dressing, mistaken identity, people hiding behind things so they can overhear stuff etc etc. This production from 2017 directed by Simon Godwin takes the Bard’s material and has a ton of fun with it. Comedy legend Tamsin Greig plays Malvolia (usually Malvolio, a bloke), the steward of Olivia’s estate. When a handsome page arrives (actually a girl in disguise), Olivia falls for him/her, unaware that his/her brother is also in the neighbourhood. Chuck in drunken freeloader Sir Toby Belch and you have a ripe domestic set-up ready to blow.
Our review at the time said: ‘It’s not the most cerebral production of a comedy that’s often treated with a lot more seriousness, and though I guess it is pretty woke, it’s not trying to make a big deal of it. Instead, it’s one of those Shakespeare revivals that reminds you that with a crack cast and a lot of love, a 400-plus year-old comedy can still deliver the lols.’
The National Theatre at Home’s ‘Twelfth Night’ screens tonight at 7pm BST on its YouTube channel for free. It’s available for a week.
The National Theatre has just announced more streaming gold, including Benedict Cumberbatch’s ‘Frankenstein’.
For other ways you can watch plays while London’s in lockdown, click here.