On Saturday I went to see Twelfth Night at Etcetera Theatre in Camden, performed as part of the Camden Fringe by the all-female Get Over It Productions. The company are no stranger to the Fringe, having performed (mainly) Shakespeare here for several years, but this was my first experience of their work.
Directed by Paula Benson, the show is set in 1969, and a hippyish, psychedelic vibe pervades the space – before the play proper begins, characters sway around the stage in thrall to Sixties music. This sounds odd, but in fact it really suits the play: when Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Paula Benson) utters the opening line “If music be the food of love, play on”, you almost expect the next line to be “Yeah, man”. In fact, the whole plot, with its mistaken identities, romantic entanglements and conspiracies, has a mischievous vibe, perfectly suited to this interpretation.
Velenzia Spearpoint and Rhiannon Kelly looked spookily alike as siblings Viola and Sebastian, and throughout the show I was rooting for them to reunite. Abigail Glasser’s sophisticated Olivia was a deep contrast to Faye Barber’s Sir Toby Belch and Paula Benson’s Sir Andrew Aguecheek, whose antics and tricks provided much hilarity. One of my favourite characters was Veronica Quilligan’s Malvolio, a ridiculous figure when tricked into wearing the famous yellow stockings, yet chilling when declaring “I shall have my revenge”. Overall, the performers were excellent, and it was refreshing to see an all-female cast (with additional beards when needed) perform the work of a dramatist whose characters are more often portrayed by men.
I had wondered how the company would manage to compress this complex plot into an hour-long show, however they managed it admirably, with all the major plot points and events kept in. A complete newcomer to the play might have found it hard to follow, but I was impressed with the clarity of the storytelling. The company’s roots are in physical and absurdist theatre, and this was apparent during the show: the wacky performances might have been over the top in a different context, but here they worked really well.
Get Over It Productions’ Twelfth Night is Shakespeare treated with a refreshing irreverence, and I hope I can catch the company’s next show at the 2015 Camden Fringe.
*Note – I saw this production on a complimentary ticket (thank you!) but as always, my opinions are 100% honest and completely my own.