REVIEW: Twelfth Night, Barnes Park, Sunderland, Until August 16

Theatre Space North East's Twelfth Night is on in Barnes Park, Sunderland.
Theatre Space North East's Twelfth Night is on in Barnes Park, Sunderland.
0
Have your say

Theatre Space North East is back with another play in the park.

This time the troupe has taken on Shakespearean comedy Twelfth Night.

The story is perhaps one of the better known of the Bard’s tales and Theatre Space North East really brought it to life in the beautiful surroundings of Sunderland’s Barnes Park.

South Shields actor Kylie Ann Ford is the real driving force behind the show as Viola, who is separated from her twin brother Sebastian (Christopher Strain) by a shipwreck.

After washing up in Illyria, Viola disguises herself as a boy, Cesario, and begins working for Duke Orsino (Jordan Carling).

She falls in love with him, but he is in love with Olivia (Helen Bowie), and tasks Cesario to woo her on his behalf.

Theatre Space North East's Twelfth Night is on in Barnes Park, Sunderland.

Theatre Space North East's Twelfth Night is on in Barnes Park, Sunderland.

But Olivia has no interest in the Duke and after meeting Viola as Cesario falls in love with her.

Ford has a powerful command of Shakespearean language and is always an exciting performer to watch – her passion shines.

A strong performance also came from Dale Jewitt as Malvolia. The actor also penned original songs for the show that were played wonderfully by the cast.

The songs were brilliant and very memorable. Audience members continued to sing them as they walked from scene to scene.

All-in-all the show was a true delight to watch. It was funny, charming and entertaining, and will provide you with something a little different to do this week.

Andrew Dawson also did a great job as Feste, a singing jester, but the decision to have him carry an instrument, yet never play it to accompany himself, was an odd one.

Sarah Boulter as Maria and David John Hopper as Sir Toby Belch really stood out from the crowd.

Boulter was wonderful and extremely likeable as the mischievous servant and Hopper raised lots of laughter as Olivia’s drunken uncle – he was hilarious.

Unfortunately, there were a few weak links in the cast. Some just didn’t perform with the same gusto as others, and some seemed to not truly understand what they were saying, simply reciting the memorised line rather than performing it.

Theatre Space North East's Twelfth Night is on in Barnes Park, Sunderland.

Theatre Space North East's Twelfth Night is on in Barnes Park, Sunderland.

The set-up of the show is wonderful though. Rather than using a static, makeshift outdoor stage, Theatre Space North East makes the most of its surroundings by using different settings in the park for different scenes.

On the downside, there was a lot of walking in between scenes, with steps (with an optional ramp to the side), uphill climbs and vaster-than-usual distances that some people may find difficult to cope with.

Some of the scenes seemed very short, you’d just get settled in one spot before you were ushered to the next.

I can understand why they wanted to use certain parts of the park for particular scenes, but the forced distance that the audience covered could have been a problem for some.

There was a huge crowd – people of all ages – there to watch the show last night, which was wonderful to see, but it also meant that if you got stuck at the back, it was difficult to see, and sometimes hear, what was going on.

The large group also meant that it took the audience a while to get from scene to scene. Towards the end of the show, we were instructed to pick up the pace in order for the show to finish before daylight ended. Maybe if we didn’t have to walk so far this wouldn’t have been a problem.

All-in-all the show was a true delight to watch. It was funny, charming and entertaining, and will provide you with something a little different to do this week.

Twelfth Night runs in Barnes Park, Sunderland until Sunday, August 16.

It starts at the cafe at 6.30pm each night.

The performance is free but with a suggested donation of £8 at the end.

Twitter: @vickinewmanjp