Last week we were lucky enough to get our hands on a pair of tickets for Twelfth Night at the National Theatre. Honestly it was so great. I’m not a theatre critic by any measure but I do love theatre; costumes and set design are the easiest way to win me over, but clever casting always helps.
This production had it all, a stage that rotated 360 degrees, sets that with a few moves transformed from a shop, to a garden with functioning fountain, into a back alley in the city, to a banquet hall, to a queer club complete with a glittering Drag Queen in metallic platform boots belting out tunes.
Staging and costuming aside, what really made the play stand out for me was the characters they chose to create; Sebastian and Viola were black, and there were obviously QUEER characters. It was modern, refreshing, take on a timeless story that I myself hadn’t had the great pleasure of seeing.
Twelfth Night has always had a hint of that, with the cross dressing, and the ‘confused’ feelings of those taken in by Viola’s deceptions, but this has always had more to do with it being a COMEDY and less to do with representing queerness. This time however it wasn’t just a comedic measure, there were QUEER characters and QUEER love that existed and it was entirely normal. I can’t lie; I teared up a few times watching these characters express their love on stage without it being a punch line. Not a joke. Not a punchline. Their queerness was just a detail in the story like any other.
With a few musical numbers thrown in, gags and jokes that hundreds or years later still get a laugh from the audience, and a thoroughly modern interpretation of a classic I highly recommend seeing it if you can. It’s bloody brilliant.
Take a look below for a few better reviews and videos about the play;