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ATwelfth Night to remember as Wilson makes great debut.

Byline: Twelfth Night

One London critic, arguing that today's directors generally seem more at home with tragedy than comedy, recently complained that you don't see many good Twelfth Nights nowadays.

While I have no idea what he will make of this one, it certainly strikes me as pretty good.

"Fresh" was the word that most suggested itselfwhilewatchingGregDoran'sproduction, which is visually bright, alertly acted and gives theimpressionthat everythinghasbeen intelligently thought through from basics.

And, most importantly, the comedy - including some of the most inspired comic set-pieces in theatre history - is genuinely funny.

There is, for instance, an original and ingenious solution to the scene in which Belch, Aguecheek and Fabian conceal themselves intheboxtree towitnessMalvolio's ensnarement inMaria's plot.

RichardWilson'smuchdelayedShakespeare debut asMalvolio hasnaturally beenamajor sellingpoint,andasyoumight expect therole fits himlike a yellow stocking.But I was very struckbyNancyCarroll's athleticViola,more assertiveandself-confident thanthe character is often played, and by how much comedy Alexandra Gilbreath finds in the often rather anonymous Olivia JoStone-Fewings alsomakesOrsino amore rounded character than he often seems.

The main comic business is in safe hands with Richard McCabe, in a near Teddy Boy hairstyle as Belch, and James Fleet as Aguecheek, and PamelaNomvete,making her RSCdebut asMaria, is a real discovery.

The beautiful design by Robert Jones imagines Illyriaasearly19thcenturyGreece, beautifully evoking an English vision of the exotic of the kind you see in GF Lewis's paintings.

Composer Paul Englishby has matched it with a suitably spicy score.# nRunning time: Threehours.UntilNovember 21.

4/5 Terry Grimley


James Fleet as Sir Andrew Aguecheek
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 23, 2009
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