Twelfth Night brilliance at Sidmouth’s Sidholme

Exciting Shakespeare interpretation by Idle Theme Theatre Company

THE whole experience of watching Twelfth Night in the grounds of Sidholme Hotel, Sidmouth, was a delight.

Idle Theme Theatre Company transformed Shakespeare’s comedy into a fast-moving, hilarious performance, with perfect timing, stagecraft, music and choice of play for the tiny stage.

It was one of the best performances of the Bard’s work I have enjoyed, so what a shame only 40 turned out on Friday evening to enjoy the thrills and spills of traditional Shakespeare with a few tweaks to cast (no Valentine or Curio) and a very modern curse.

One seasoned actress in the audience was spellbound by Mackenzie Thorpe’s portrayal of the drunken Sir Toby Belch, describing his interpretation as being better than that given, some years ago, by Sir Richard Burton.

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Praise indeed, yet well deserved. Praise too for Nigel Broome as Malvolio, puritanical steward to the Countess Olivia (Rachel Longstaff), who, fooled by a letter he believes comes from her, the woman he adores, turns into a simpering, smiling idiot, willing to do and wear anything to impress her.

Taut, comedic moments were both led and directed by Alec Fellows-Bennett, who mastered the role of Feste, clown and storyteller.

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Foil to Sir Toby was the aptly named knight Sir Andrew Aguecheek, fellow drunken sop, a part clearly relished by Mark Oram.

The story is about improbabilities – identical twins wrenched apart by violent shipwrecks, women, namely Viola, keenly played by Evelyn O’Malley, disguised as men, practical jokes and a tidy, happy ending.

As Shakespeare said, he could condemn it as “an improbably fiction”, but it certainly made for a great night’s entertainment.

Other parts were admirably played by Mark Donne-Davis (Orsino, Duke of Illyria), Maria, Nicola Osborne, Fabian, Marc Colson, Antonio/Sea Captain, Brian Rees and violin by musical director Rebecca Willson. DB

*If you missed the chance of seeing Twelfth Night at Sidholme, Idle Theme Theatre Company will perform again at Otterton Mill on Friday and Saturday, July 22/23 at special barbecue supper evenings from 6.15pm. Tickets are �22 to include food on the terrace and the play in the courtyard. Book at (01395) 568521 or visit the mill’s craft shop.

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