“Twelfth night” is a comedy written by William Shakespeare and it’s believed to be dated back to 1601. Today, in the grand old year of 2022, ‘Old Fruit Jar Productions’ bring you their own interpretation of his historic piece of theatre, in the quaint studio of Liverpool’s Royal Court.
The cast caught our attention straight away as when we arrived, the fascinating “Sir Toby” was residing in my designated seat, warming it up for me while he snored and drunkenly moaned like a forgotten stag on Matthew Street! Luckily some of the theatre staff woke up this sleeping beauty, so I could take my seat. Toby managed to stagger from the chair to the stage, where he collapsed in another drunken heap and the show hadn’t even started- a clear sign of things to come!
Being honest, ‘Shakespeare’ isn’t my first choice when it comes to an entertaining night of theatre. I can appreciate and admire his work but for me, it takes a lot of concentration and brain power to sit through the lengthy two act plays filled with complex language and puzzling phrases. This also makes it all the more impressive for a young group of performers to take on such a challenging production, which they did in style! Filled with laughs and unexpected hilarities, ‘Old Fruit Jar’ have pulled out all the stops with their post pandemic debut!
With twelve actors making up the cast, this group took on the Shakespeare challenge with ease, rhyming off the difficult lines with fluency and class- no mean feat! I hadn’t heard Shakespeare spoken in a scouse accent before but it absolutely worked for this production which aimed to break the ‘norms’ and put a modern spin on this very old tale. Most of the roles within this cast are big, everyone has a significant part to play and it was obvious from the get-go that this cast were very passionate and committed. Each and every performer was well rehearsed which really paid off in their slick delivery.
Because of the difficult script, the audience rely a lot on the individual’s performance to inherit the meaning and story line. Luckily, the actors did this by making use of facial expressions, explicit gestures and diverse intonation so that the lines were delivered with conviction. The acting style was very physical which played to the comedic angles of this play and led to an especially engaging performance. This group weren’t afraid to push the boundaries with copious drunken burps, falls, brawls, roars and spillages all thrown in for good measure!
The set, music and costumes are a blend of ‘80s’ and modern ‘Ibiza’ vibes which added more layers to this interesting production. I particularly enjoyed some of the graffiti and props used to make the audience laugh! Director, Alex Carr, has thought outside the box when taking on this Shakespeare classic and credit must be given for his fun, energetic and unique creation.
If you like Shakespeare, there is no doubt that you will enjoy this lively production and even for those who don’t always choose Shakespeare, ‘Old Fruit Jar’ have created something that might just change your mind or give you a new perspective on his famous ramblings. Congratulations to this talented group for bringing history back to life, in a way like no other and good luck for the next three nights of ‘Twelfth Night’ at Liverpool’s Royal Court Studio. For ticket information, please visit www.liverpoolsroyalcourt.com/whats-on/twelfth-night/
Reviewer: Bláthíne Maguire
Reviewed: 17th August 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★