Twelfth Night is festive delight

SNOW floating down from the sky on a midsummer night was a strange scene at Tolethorpe Open Air Theatre, but this was Stamford Shakespeare Company’s performance of Twelfth Night, so it fitted perfectly.

The Christmas trees placed on either side of the gates on stage and the snow scattered all over the set transported the audience from a July evening to a January night, and the effect was very impressive.

SSC always impress in staging Shakespeare’s plays, and this adaptation of one of The Bard’s later works was no exception.

The play was opened by a single lute player serenading us before the reverie was shattered by pompous, love-lorn Lord Orsino pining for the snobbish Lady Olivia, played by Carmel O’Sullivan.

Our heroine Viola was played by Lauren Radcliffe, who acted the typical Shakesperian damsel in distress, and later our hero Cesario as an unconvincing male, to a tee.

Stamford stalwart Steve Whittaker as the drunken letch, Sir Toby Belch brought the house down with his inebriated swaggering and hands wandering over comely maid Maria (Elaine Johnson), and their flirtatious banter raised a few smirks from the audience.

Jed Jaggard was a hoot once again as effeminate sycophant Sir Andrew Aguecheek, another suitor to Olivia.

Belch and Aguecheek’s hilarious ‘impromptu’ song with Feste the Fool entitled Hold Thy Peace brought rapturous applause, as did their very polished rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Credit must also go to Lady Olivia’s stuck-up butler Marvolio. As the trio convince him that the Lady is in love with him and encourage him to wear yellow stockings and to smile inanely, Terry Kenny plays the tightly-wound character with aplomb and was fantastic in the scene where he appears to descend into madness.

Another fantastic show, with excellent acting that kept the pace snappy and the story line easy to follow.