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by Jenni Balow
This is Shakespeare unplugged, pure, intelligent and stripped of gimmickry and modern day interpretation - now that makes a change, doesn't it.
Curiously there is no excess of music, food and love, but simply an abundance of apparently effortless, eloquent acting on a bare stage, and it's all the better for it.
How refreshing it is to simply sit back and drink in the beautifully enunciated words as we follow the foibles, the confusions, the comedy, loves and the vulnerabilities of this cast of characters that live somewhere in Europe, in a place called Illyria.
The play opens with Viola (Shaelee Rooke) finding herself all washed up, seemingly emerging from the sea that is the backdrop to the Minack stage, having lost her twin Sebastian (Paddy Fleming) in a shipwreck in a storm.
She decides that she stands the best chance of survival if she disguises herself as a young man and calls herself Cesario, only to find that she catches the passionate eye of a countess, Olivia, (Louise Torres-Ryan) let alone that of the Duke of Illyria (Harry de Moraville).
The comedy arrives in the form of the rascally Sir Toby (Peter Broad), the diffident Sir Andrew (David Persiva) in an altogether perfect primrose plaid suit, and the wonderfully querulous Malvolio (John Tolputt) who, is destined to be taken down a peg or two, in a plot aided and abetted by lady in waiting (Anna Tolputt).
Their various actions are observed by the sweetest of wise fools (Jonny Taylor) who strums his guitar in laid-back Dylan-like fashion, as he delivers delicious words of wisdom. There is also a strong performance by Anthony Dakin as the sea captain Antonio.
Directed unerringly by Simon Taylor, they entrance us throughout, and on the opening night had the sell-out audience on its feet at the end.
Each of these actors deserve to be applauded for simply ensuring that we follow and understand the words as Shakespeare wrote them, in an uncluttered production, backed by Olivia Stone behind the scenes, with David and Victoria Pugh on light and sound, and complementary choice of costumes by Jenni Sundheim and team.
Make of this what you will. It is one of the best.