Globe Player, Shakespeare's Globe, London

07/05/2020 - 07/05/2020

COVID-19 Lockdown Festival 2020

Production Details

‘If music be the food of love, play on’ 

Cross-dressing, hijinks and bittersweet hilarity as Emma Rice directs Shakespeare’s timeless, soulful and irrepressible comedy.


Twins Sebastian and Viola are shipwrecked on the coast of Illyria, separated and believing each other to be dead. Beside herself with grief, Viola disguises herself as a boy and goes into the service of the Duke Orsino.

The Duke, madly in love with the Countess Olivia, sends Viola to woo on his behalf…

Olivia falls in love with the cross-dressed page while Viola falls deep and fast for Orsino. Meanwhile, mischievous servants play painful pranks at each other’s expense. Heady chaos ensues as griefs, loves and deep human confusions collide, but fear not! Sweet resolution wins the day as friends, twins and lovers are reunited.

Twelfth Night on Globe Player
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Director:  Emma Rice
Designer:  Lez Brotherston
Composer:  Ian Ross
Lighting Designer:  Malcolm Rippeth
Choreographer:  Etta Murfitt
Sound Designer:  Simon Baker
Fight Directors:  Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown

Joshua Lacey 
Viola:  Anita-Joy Uwajeh 
Malvolio:  Katy Owen 
Sir Andrew Aguecheek:  Marc Antolin
Sebastian:  John Pfumojena
Maria:  Carly Bawden
Fabian:  Nandi Bhebhe
Feste:  Le Gateau Chocolat
Sir Toby Belch:  Tony Jayawardena
Antonio:  Pieter Lawman
Ensemble:  Kandaka Moore
Ensemble:  Theo St. Claire
Olivia:  Annette McLaughlin  

Theatre ,

2 hrs 28 mins

Artful actors outshine the glitter and glamour

Review by Kate Timms-Dean and Madeleine Dean 14th May 2020

As New Zealand leaves behind the limp dressing gown of lockdown, a bit of fun and frippery is bound to enliven the senses. The 2017 Globe production of Twelfth Night is set to send your swans a-swimming and your lords a-leaping. This is Shakespeare, but not as we know it.

Lights, camera, action – this show kicks off with a bang, as the shipwreck that starts the adventures of Viola (Anita-Joy Uwajeh) and Sebastian (John Pfumojena) is reimagined as a party on the high seas. The scene is reminiscent of a nightclub, with flashing lights and the throb of disco beats. Feste the fool reimagined by Le Gateau Chocolat is a show-stopper just as the curtain rises; this is an opening act that demands attention.

If you are a Shakespeare purist, please avert your eyes. But watch on and relish if you enjoy the juxtaposing and irony of the old and the new jostling and jumbling against each other; if you appreciate the positioning of the audience in the present, viewing an old story through modern eyes; if you want to watch Shakespeare with your children, and have them be able to access the pleasures of his comedic talent.

While great homage is paid to the penman, this is a bit like looking through a stained-glass window, casting light on these oft-spoken words and phrases in kaleidoscopic ways. The result is an ease of access, a clarity that engenders a diverse audience; younger and older, laughing, enjoying, four centuries on from when the words were written. We watch this together, mother and daughter, with 33 years between us.

Despite the dazzle, the disco and the dancing, it is the characters that really shine in this rendition of Twelfth Night – they are many and varied, and amazing. Yes, the set, the lighting, the costumes: these are predictably perfect, minutely momentous and absolutely ideal, but, for all the glitter and glamour, they are truly outshone by the artful dodging of this merry troupe.

Favourites are hard to identify – because there are so many! – but, for both of us, Malvolio by Katy Owen is a triumph. The character’s vain pomposity is recast as a squeaking mouse of a man, ginger and moustachioed, complete with whistle and tweed coat. Not one pebble of irony or innuendo is left unturned and it is absolutely hilarious. The true genius for me is the use of vocal timbre that pulls me back to the role of gender in Shakespeare, underlining the special position of Katy, as a woman playing a Shakespearean man.

Emma Rice’s production of the classic Shakespearean comedy has the sparkle and glitter of a seventies nightclub, a wit and whimsy that is fitting tribute to the original, and truckloads of amazing characters. By weaving pulsing lights, throbbing music, and incredible stagecraft, Rice has provided “a brilliant reminder that, set against love and life, melancholy can be overrated” (Tim Adams, The Guardian, 28/5/2017). 

We have had our fill of melancholy lately, as we stand on our shores and look across the seas to the world, hearts aching. It is sad to think what the Globe looks like today; empty, dusty, silent. So let a little light in with a visit to the Globe online (, and slake your thirst for theatre. Twelfth Night would be a great place to start!


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