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A reviews round-up for Twelfth Night at the National Theatre starring Tamsin Greig

Simon Godwin’s gender-bending production of Shakespeare’s comedy starring Tamsin Greig has opened to widespread acclaim. A dazzling and comic production, in which Greig takes on the traditional male role; Greig’s performances is fabulously funny and troublingly dark.

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Greig is aptly supported by an outstanding cast, especially the fine comic performances of Tim McMullan’s Toby Belch and Daniel Rigby’s Andrew Aguecheek.

Godwin’s production is beautifully judge, fine tuned and a tour-de-force of invention.

Twelfth Night runs until 17 April 2017 at the National Theatre.

Check out the round-up of reviews.

REVIEWS ROUND-UP

STAR RATING The Observer

“Tamsin Greig is a magnetic Malvolia in an extravagant production that gleefully refocuses Shakespeare’s comedy”

“In Godwin’s extravagant, rambunctious production there is almost more stuff and notions than even the Olivier can contain. There is real boisterousness and some loss: of lyricism and longing. Phoebe Fox is an agile, wistful Olivia and Tamara Lawrence a slow-starting but finally engaging Viola, easy with androgyny, comic in her amorous glee.”

“Soutra Gilmour’s huge pyramidal design – a ship’s prow that becomes a glitzy villa with corporate chandelier – constantly revolves. It becomes the “whirligig of time” that “brings in his revenges”.

Susannah Clapp, The Observer

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STAR RATING The Guardian

“Tamsin Greig is brilliant in a show full of fun”

“Simon Godwin’s inventive gender-fluid production of Shakespeare’s most perfect comedy has a vital elan and some great performances”

“Greig is such an instinctive comic actor, it pays off richly. Greig makes instant sense of the transition of Shakespeare’s steward into a woman.”

“There are actually echoes of Donald Sinden’s Malvolio in the way Greig studiously realigns the box trees and shoots disapproving glances at the front stalls for finding filthy meanings in the fake letter. But Greig makes the scene her own by showing how a closet lesbian might react to a secret declaration of love from her boss. For me, the later transition into yellow stockings doesn’t work, simply because I couldn’t believe this tightly repressed figure would instantly turn into a flashy showbiz floozie. But by the end, Greig won me back over by showing Malvolia as a woman whose sense of identity has been irrevocably shattered. It’s a brilliant performance.”

“Simon Godwin’s staging is also bright, inventive and boundlessly funny: all I missed was the element of reflective melancholy that makes this, for many of us, the most perfect comedy ever written.”

Michael Billington, The Guardian

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STAR RATING Time Out

“This delicious crowd pleaser of a ‘Twelfth Night’ isn’t the most heavyweight take you’ll ever see, but if you’re looking for actual laughs then you’re in luck. Director Simon Godwin takes Shakespeare’s mistaken identity comedy, spices it up with with a bit of sexual fluidity, then chucks in a bunch of great comedy character actors and leaves them to go nuts.”

“It’s certainly far more than the Tamsin Greig show – Godwin’s production groans with brilliant turns. Foremost is surely Daniel Rigby, who plays the foppish Sir Andrew Aguecheek as a dim witted, man-bunned hipster who stumbles confusedly through the play – frequently staring in confusion at the actual stage machinery – pretty much doing whatever he’s told to by Tim McMullan’s hilariously louche Toby Belch, who poor, sweet Andrew is clearly madly in love with (it’s strongly suggested the two have had a fling in the past). Fox is tremendously good fun as a slightly bonkers Olivia, with a thing for dancing when nobody is watching. Olivier Chris does his mad toff act as enjoyably as ever as pining prince Orsino. And if rising star Tamara Lawrance doesn’t have as juicy a comic role, she’s charismatic and loveable as Viola, the girl-dressed-as-boy who must negotiate all these weirdos as she attempts to track down her long-lost brother Sebastian (Daniel Ezra).”

“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.”

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut

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STAR RATING The Stage

“Simon Godwin’s production is one of two halves. Initially it lays the comedy on thick (it feels not uncoincidental that the cast feature two of the stars of One Man, Two Guvnors). There is much drunkenness, tomfoolery and messing about in swimming pools. There’s also a scene with a working fountain, and a car – it’s like Godwin’s determined to use all of the Olivier’s toys.”

“As a director he’s great at big comedy set-pieces and so it proves here. There is a wonderfully messy booze-fuelled party scene, but there’s a heartlessness to some of the laughs, and often the tenderness and pathos of the play gets lost.”

Natasha Tripney, The Stage

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STAR RATING Evening Standard

“Tamsin Greig is brilliant in the part. Every gesture is full of attitude. She walks daintily, as though obliged to step over a series of tiny hurdles, and the briefest glance conveys acres of disdain. It’s a performance of wit and immense poise, which perfectly captures the character’s neuroses about rank.”

“Tim McMullan is a gloriously louche Toby Belch, a middle-aged boozehound desperately clinging on to his hipster style, and Daniel Rigby as moneyed nincompoop Andrew Aguecheek has a sublime daftness and very nasty man-bun. A tuneful Doon Mackichan makes a slinky Feste, who looks as if at any moment she might kick off her sparkly high heels and start to lead a particularly naughty aerobics class.”

“The emphasis on comic verve means that the play’s melancholy notes are muted. But its romance isn’t lost. “

“The main shortcoming of Simon Godwin’s well-cast production is that, running at a whisker under three hours, it sometimes feels slow. Yet it’s inventive, makes smart use of the resources of the National Theatre’s Olivier stage, and above all has a rich sense of fun.”

Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard

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STAR RATING The Independent

“There’s a touch of Mrs Danvers about Greig’s devoted steward. Helmeted in a jet-black ruler-cut bob, she trots about in career-woman culottes, repositioning fractionally out-of place shrubs to within a millimetre of their lives. The ridiculous vanity and self-love in the character, as conceived by Shakespeare, seem to me, however, to be stubbornly the product of a male ego, so I was neither convinced nor amused by the heavy-handed additions to the celebrated yellow cross-gartered stockings scene.”

“Greig goes over the top with relish, like the trooper she is, but it’s all very broad. It’s with her quiet, wonderfully chastening account of the broken, humiliated Malvolia at the end that she excels.”

” I have to say that the audience seemed to love the show but it came over to me to be the kind production that piles it on without sensitively thinking it through.”

Paul Taylor, Independent

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STAR RATING The Daily Telegraph

“Tamsin Greig shines in a production otherwise at sea”

“Greig makes the part her own, wearing an attitude of a forbidding school ma’am, a joyless array of black clothing and a severe Cleopatra bob that would give a child nightmares. She is, hilariously, impassivity on a monument, fussing over the garden topiary, doing tai chi moves to calm down and with possessive eyes only for her mistress (Phoebe Fox’s Olivia).”

“It’s hit and miss – or hit and mister (whatever suits); more a straightforward romp than a strange tragicomedy of unrequited love and mistaken identity. “

Dominic Cavendish, Telegraph

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STAR RATING Westendtheatre.com

“Tamsin Greig brings dazzling comic brio to a gender-bending production”

“This is a dazzling and finely tuned production of Shakespeare’s comedy – a tour-de-force of invention that takes the play’s preoccupation with cross-dressing and gender slipperiness and runs with it. It has intelligence to complement the gusto and comic brio.”

Ben Dowell, Radio Times

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