If music be the food of love… play on
Tuesday 16th May 2017 13:31 Entertainment Showbiz Posted by Nigel Skinner

Mina Anwar – ball of comic energy.

Twelfth Night at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, one of Shakespeare’s finest romantic comedies, is playing until May 20 and is a theatrical treat not to be missed.   

This intoxicating comedy with themes of gender politics, identity, love and sexuality are all explored.

Mistaken identities cause a storm in the midst of the action when protagonist Viola (Faith Omole) is shipwrecked on the Isle of Illyria, losing her twin brother Sebastian.

For protection, Viola disguises herself as a boy, assumes the name of Cesario and becomes a page in the service of Orsino, the Duke.

Omole is outstanding in the role and her infamous speech “I left no ring with her…” was compelling.

Award-winning director Jo Davies steers this sensational production into a journey of self-discovery, eventually reuniting the separated twins Viola and Sebastian.

Frolics and mayhem are at the helm of the play as the very graceful and charismatic actor Kate Kennedy (Olivia) falls in love with the disguised Viola and then mistakes Sebastian for her love interest Viola.

Orsino (Kevin Harvey) who is pining for his beloved Olivia is captivating, delivering the text in a rich velvet voice.

Viola falls for the charms of the Duke and this complex love triangle, with twists, turns and a cacophony of confusions plays out.

Mina Anwar (Maria) returns to the Exchange as the gentlewoman and was a delight to watch in this beautiful blend of theatre magic.

Anwar is a ball of energy as she flits around the array of fast-moving action, causing mischief along the way.

Anthony Calf (Malvolio), Olivia’s steward is magnificent and hilarious in the role and the yellow stockings and crossed garter (cycling) attire is pure magical comedy.

The play features a subplot, the dark side of this comedy, centred around Malvolio’s punishment by his fellow servants for his puritan lifestyle which is a gripping contrast to the farcical frivolities.

Kate O’Donnell – fooling around to perfection.

The award-winning transgender artist Kate O’Donnell makes her debut at the Royal Exchange in the role of Feste.

O’Donnell plays the role of Fool to perfection in a colourful cocktail of charm, wit and glamorous showgirl gestures.   

Harry Attwell (Sir Andrew Aguecheek) and Simon Armstrong (Sir Toby Belch) are fabulously entertaining in their roles and entrancing to watch.

Music plays a large part in this production, intertwined throughout the story.

Excellently composed by Alex Baranowski with talented musicians including Kate Young, Musical Director Tarek Merchant, Jill Myers who plays multiple characters and the mesmerising Joseph Gravill on his unique ‘lap-tap guitar’.

Aaron Anthony (Antonio) and Sebastian (Daniel Francis-Swaby) are also strong in their roles.

The staging design is inventive, expressionistic and captures the feeling of the narrative, superbly designed by Leslie Travers.

This production is sensational from the moment it starts to the finishing song, celebrating the genius of Shakespeare.   

Contact the box office for tickets on 0161 833 9833 or visit www.royalexchange.co.uk

Review by DENISE EVANS

Pictures courtesy: Jonathan Keenan