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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Watermill Theatre

Box office

01635 46044.

The Watermill Theatre, Bagnor, Newbury, RG20 8AE. A map is here. A seating plan is here.


Reviews of Twelfth Night

6th April to 6th May 2017.

Review from Newbury Theatre.

Following his production of Romeo + Juliet last year, director Paul Hart has given a similar treatment to Twelfth Night with a young and energetic cast and lots of music, in the usual actor/musician style – it could almost be called Twelfth Night The Musical.

Starting in Orsino’s palace – actually The Elephant Jazz Club – there’s a raucous introduction from the company, including Georgia on My Mind and Mad World, finally brought to order by Orsino (Jamie Satterthwaite). Scene changes after that are accompanied by more music, which sometimes distracts from the text.

Twelfth Night is strong on comedy, and this production certainly plays it for laughs. The comic quartet of Sir Toby (Lauryn Redding), Sir Andrew (Mike Slader), Feste (dignified and thoughtful, by Offue Okegbe) and Maria (Victoria Blunt) pull out all the stops, not always successfully. Lauryn Redding has magnificent body language but her clownish Sir Toby is a caricature and the drunkenness is unconvincing. Mike Slader, upper class twit, is genuinely funny in a likeable performance. Maria is the brains of the outfit, and Victoria Blunt needs to be more feisty.

Rebecca Lee’s understated Viola was a very natural and convincing performance, contrasting well with the general flamboyance. I didn’t really get Aruhan Galieva’s Olivia, veering between flirty and serious; I thought it needed more gravitas.

Peter Dukes gave an excellent comic performance as Malvolio. The scene where he finds Maria’s letter has the quartet hiding behind a double bass and is beautifully choreographed with spot-on timing. In Act 2, here’s Malvolio like you’ve never seen him before: yellow stockinged and cross-gartered and very little else.

Adding to the gender bending, we had ‘Sir Toby’ as a ‘she’, although still marrying Maria at the end, and Antonia (Emma McDonald) as the sea captain with an unrequited crush on Sebastian (Stuart Wilde). I had never interpreted his/her line “I do adore thee so” in that way before! Emma McDonald’s dismay at the end when Sebastian hitches up with Olivia is palpable.

Romeo + Juliet is on for a week in May after Twelfth Night finishes (Lauryn Redding is superb as the nurse) and they are running in repertoire for a week in July. They share the same set, designed by Katy Lias, with balcony, bar area below and raised plain stage.

It doesn’t all hit the mark, but the music (created and adapted by the cast) is exciting and well done, and there are some very funny scenes.


Review from the British Theatre Guide and the Newbury Weekly News.

The Watermill Theatre has an absolute winner on its hands with its rumbustious production of Twelfth Night.

From the moment you enter the beautiful grounds, newspaper placards inform us of shipwrecks and scandal and Illyria’s most-wanted Antonio and rewards.

Katie Lias’s glorious set creates the “Elephant Jazz Club” of the 1920s with decadent, arched mirrors that revolve to reveal the bar, plush curtains and side tables dressed in crisp white cloths and opulent lamps creating a cabaret-style format.

Audience members are encouraged to dance with the cast as the jazz tunes are performed by these incredibly zestful actor-musicians and they enthusiastically oblige.

All of this before the play properly begins. This is going to be a very different interpretation of Shakespeare’s story of mistaken identity, love triangles, excesses and comic fun.

Jamie Satterthwaite’s splendid Orsino sets the mood with the line “if music be the food of love, play on”. This cast do just that with verve and impressive musicianship with songs from the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington as well as original tunes created by the cast and they sing superbly.

Overseeing the proceedings is the guitar-playing clown Feste (Offue Okegbe), especially when twins Viola and the sultry Sebastian (Stuart Wilde) are shipwrecked, each thinking that the other is lost at sea, but he is finally rescued by the gutsy Antonia (Emma McDonald).

Rebecca Lee is impressive as the resourceful Viola who seeks the disguise of a young man Cesario and becomes the servant to Orsino. He is in love with Olivia, the feisty Aruhan Galieva, and sends Cesario to woo Olivia on his behalf but becomes besotted by her, creating a mistaken love triangle.

As Sir Toby Belch, Lauryn Redding is outstanding in creating the pompous, drunken character and, together with the rich gauche Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Mike Slader), they carouse into the early hours, much to the annoyance of the virtuous Malvolio.

Maria (Victoria Blunt) together with Sir Toby and Sir Aguecheek plan to get revenge on Malvolio and set up an elaborate deception plan by convincing him that Olivia is in love with him and plant a letter asking him to wear yellow cross-gartered stockings and to constantly smile at everyone.

The transformation is utterly hilarious as the conspirators hide behind a double bass case, as a substitute for the box hedge, but this humiliation drives Malvolio into madness in a stunningly powerful performance from Peter Dukes.

This highly talented company, many of whom had appeared in last year's highly successful Romeo and Juliet, are directed with panache by Paul Hart who creates many magical and inventive theatrical moments and is tremendous fun.

They richly deserved the standing ovation on press night and it should not be missed.


There are reviews from WhatsOnStage ("by the time all is resolved with a final glorious jamming session, the audience is begging the brass to 'play on' long after the last curtain call" - 4 stars"), The Reviews Hub ("a fun and energetic production" - 4 stars), the Henley Standard ("this is Shakespeare as you have never quite seen it before, and you get the impression that the Bard himself would have loved [it]... most impressive").

There's an interesting article...

... by Tei Williams about the process in staging a Watermill production, from choosing the play through to the opening night. It's here.

Reviews in the Archive

Faust x2 (March 2017)
Murder For Two (January 2017)
Sleeping Beauty (November 2016)
Frankenstein (October 2016)
The Wipers Times (September 2016)
Crazy For You (July 2016)
Watership Down (June 2016)
Untold Stories (May 2016)
One Million Tiny Plays About Britain (April 2016 and on tour)
Romeo and Juliet (February 2016)
Tell Me on a Sunday (January 2016)
Alice in Wonderland (November 2015)
Gormenghast (November 2015) - see the Youth page
The Ladykillers (September 2015)
Oliver! (July 2015)
A Little History of the World (July 2015 and on tour)
Between the Lines (July 2015)
The Deep Blue Sea (June 2015)
Far From the Madding Crowd (April 2015)
Tuxedo Junction (March 2015)
The Secret Adversary (February 2015)
Peter Pan (November 2014)
But First This (October 2014)
Twelfth Night (November 2014) - see the Youth page
Journey's End (September 2014)
Calamity Jane (July 2014)
The Boxford Masques - Joe Soap's Masquerade (July 2014)
Hardboiled - the Fall of Sam Shadow (July 2014)
A Bunch of Amateurs (May 2014)
Sense and Sensibility (April 2014)
Life Lessons (March 2014)
All My Sons (February 2014)
The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (January 2014)
Pinocchio (November 2013)
Sherlock's Last Case (September 2013)
Romeo+Juliet (September 2013 and on tour)
The Witches of Eastwick (July 2013)
Laurel & Hardy (June 2013)
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (May 2013)
The Miser (April 2013)
David Copperfield (March 2013)
Sleuth (February 2013)
Arabian Nights (November 2012)
The Tempest (September 2012)
Thoroughly Modern Millie (August 2012)
Boxford Masques (July 2012)
Ben Hur (June 2012)
Of Mice and Men (May 2012)
Love on the Tracks (April 2012 and on tour)
Henry V and The Winter's Tale (April 2012)
Lettice and Lovage (February 2012)
The Wind in the Willows (November 2011)
Some Like It Hotter (November 2011 and on tour)
Great Expectations (September 2011)
Radio Times (August 2011)
The Marriage of Figaro (July 2011)
Moonlight and Magnolias (May 2011)
Richard III and The Comedy of Errors (April 2011)
The Clodly Light Opera and Drama Society (March 2011)
Relatively Speaking (February 2011)
Treasure Island (November 2010)
Single Spies (September 2010)
Copacabana (July 2010)
Daisy Pulls It Off (June 2010)
Brontë (April 2010)
Raising Voices (March 2010)
Confused Love (March 2010)
Heroes (February 2010)
James and the Giant Peach (November 2009)
Educating Rita (October 2009)
Spend Spend Spend! (July 2009 and September 2010)
Blithe Spirit (May 2009)
Bubbles (April to May and September to October 2009)
A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Merchant of Venice (March 2009)
Life X 3 (January 2009)
Matilda and Duffy's Stupendous Space Adventure (November 2008)
The Sirens' Call (November 2008)
Our Country's Good (September 2008)
See Newbury Dramatic Society for a review of The Recruiting Officer (October 2008)
Sunset Boulevard (July 2008)
Boxford Masques - Knight and Day (July 2008)
Black Comedy and The Bowmans (May 2008)
London Assurance (April 2008)
Micky Salberg's Crystal Ballroom Dance Band (April 2008 and on tour)
Great West Road (March 2008)
Merrily We Roll Along (March 2008)
Honk! (November 2007)
Rope (September 2007)
Martin Guerre (July 2007)
Twelfth Night (June 2007)
The Story of a Great Lady (April and September 2007, and on tour)
The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (April 2007)
For Services Rendered (March 2007)
Plunder (January 2007)
The Snow Queen (November 2006)
Peter Pan in Scarlet (October 2006)
The Taming of the Shrew (September 2006 and on tour in 2007)
Hot Mikado (July 2006 and September 2009)
Boxford Masques: The Crowning of the Year (July 2006)
Hobson's Choice (May 2006)
Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea (April 2006)
Tartuffe (February 2006)
The Jungle Book (November 2005)
The Gilded Lilies (October 2005)
Copenhagen (September 2005)
The Garden of Llangoed (September 2005 and September 2006)
Thieves' Carnival (July 2005)
The Shed (July 2005)
Mack and Mabel (May 2005)
The Odyssey (May 2005)
Broken Glass (April 2005)
The Winter's Tale (January 2005)
Arabian Nights (December 2004)
See Newbury Dramatic Society for a review of Whose Life is it Anyway? (November 2004)
Multiplex (November 2004)
Neville's Island (September 2004)
The Comedian (September 2004 and March 2005)
Raising Voices Again (September 2004)
Pinafore Swing (July 2004)
The Venetian Twins (May 2004)
The Gentleman from Olmedo (April 2004)
Mr & Mrs Schultz (March 2004 and on tour)
Sweeney Todd (February 2004)
The Emperor and the Nightingale (November 2003)
See Newbury Dramatic Society for a review of An Ideal Husband (November 2003)
A Star Danced (September 2003)
The Fourth Fold (September 2003)
The Last Days of the Empire (July 2003)
Accelerate (July 2003)
Dreams from a Summer House (May 2003)
The Triumph of Love (April 2003)
Gigolo (March 2003)
Raising Voices (March 2003)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (February 2003)
The Firebird (November 2002)
Ten Cents a Dance (September 2002)
Dancing at Lughnasa (July 2002)
Love in a Maze (June 2002)
Fiddler on the Roof (April 2002)
I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls (March 2002 and March 2006)
Only a Matter of Time (February 2002)
Cinderella and the Enchanted Slipper (November 2001)
Piaf (October 2001)
The Merchant of Venice (October 2001)
Witch (September 2001)
The Clandestine Marriage (August 2001)
The Importance of Being Earnest (May 2001)
Gondoliers (March 2001)
Rose Rage (February 2001)
Carmen (July 2000)