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Hot off the stage: 'Most wonderful' Twelfth Night at Liverpool Everyman
Updated 3:01pm Thursday 13th March 2014 in News
Nicholas Woodeson, Alan Stocks, Adam Keast and Matthew Kelly in Twelfth Night. Picture: Stephen Vaughan
IF music be the food of love play on . .
And the first 'play on' these words at the re-opened Everyman Theatre illuminate an evening full of melodious songs, magical mayhem, slapstick and thought-provoking comedy, melancholy poetry and adventure in equal measure (for measure).
Twelfth Night, in real life, usually heralds the end of our Winter festivities.
Here it is the signal for a brand new future in Hope Street and what a sparkling ensemble piece with - using a Bard phrase - the 'most wonderful' of individual performances in the 13-strong cast.
And, forsooth, it's a vibrant theatrical team the inspirational director Gemma Bodinetz has put together - where past meets present thanks to so many versatile personalities.
Two old hands from the Everyman of the mid-70s returned to be part of a play they seemed to have worked on before - but Matthew Kelly and Nicholas Woodeson were actually doing it for the first time.
Matthew, as Sir Toby Belch (proving they gave knighthoods randomly even 400 years ago) had a twinkle in his drunk-induced eyes. Game for a laugh - that's Toby's legacy.
Not a bad idea for a telly show - Game for a laugh - I must have stars in my eyes.
I must send it to ITV. Which again makes me wonder why wasn't.
Prolific punster Will, made Sir William Shakespeare? Politics, you see... there's the rub.
This production is something audiences of all ages can savour just what the Everyman ethos is all about.
Nicholas plays puritan Mavolio like a bulldog bouncer from Oxford - the bowler-hatted red tape bores.
He gets his comeuppance and yet, thanks to this actor's skills, we feel sorry for him. A class act.
The neon lights outside show that huge Big E. that encompasses the venue.
The first play I saw there as a schoolboy was Richard III with the cast dressed as skin-head yobs. It changed everything for me tackling lack lustre literature lessons.
Years later, I worked there as a press officer and promoted A Midsummer Night's Dream... set in Bali.
Yeah, the Everyman messes with your mind - in a great way exploring and expanding our imaginations.
Three hours long, this 're-opener’ is worth the wait.
It is pure Everyman in action. There is a lot to pack in about mistaken identities, pomposity, religious hypocrisy and - the ultimate reason for everything - love.
It sounds like the agenda on the Andrew Marr show.
Here at the Everyman all the players deserve applause notably Jodie McNee's exquisite Viola - pure talent with plenty of strings attached; Adam Keast as another knight in tweed armour and a warm, full of life performance from Pauline Daniels using her vast stage experience to flesh out Maria - a great Shakespearean debut for Pauline.
Designer Laura Hopkins deserves some beautiful bouquets for her delectable design which, without giving the game away, give us flowers from heaven, atmospheric cloisters and clever reflective mirror images of our very selves.
Cross-dressing Feste (popular local star Paul Duckworth in Lily Savage mode) helps the comedic scenes flow with effervescent Mr Kelly and Mr Keast (in smashing, almost Rik Mayall mimicry fashion) proving laughs galore.
One of composer Peter Coyte's songs summed up the aim and intent of this show and forthcoming productions: "We'll strive to please you every day."
What an intro to a new Everyman era.
Nine out of ten: Happy Homecoming.
Twelfth Night is at the Everyman until April 5. Tickets from 0151 709 4776 or www.everymanplayhouse.com
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