Just me talking about costume-y kind of stuff
Twelfth Night, 2017
Directed by Simon Godwin
Costumes and Scenery by Soutra Gilmour
If you click on the link it will take you to her website.
All Photos Credit: Marc Brenner for The National Theatre and Soutra Gilmour.
Twelfth Night is a favorite of mine. I've done it twice before--once at UTEP back in the early 1990's when I was a student and was the wardrobe mistress, dresser, and hair stylist. And again last spring for MCC. Both times we did it with period appropriate costumes. My favorite production that I've seen was Texas Shakespeare Festival's in 2015. It was set in a later period (1810's) and had the most wonderful original music. The National Theatre's version is set in the present day and it does not disappoint.
Soutra Gilmour designed both scenery and costumes (as is so often done in the UK) for this production. The set steals the show as it usually does in the Olivier space due to its stage that both revolves and is on a corkscrew lift that enables the scenery to both appear from and disappear into the floor. This set doesn't take advantage of the lift, but makes excellent use of the revolve. The set is a huge step pyramid (with functional stairs where many scenes are played) that provides four different playing spaces and the surprise element of opening and closing like pages of a book which provides another two playing spaces after intermission. On one side is the interior of Olivia's house, the opposite side is the exterior of Orsino's. As the set rotates around, we get the exterior of Olivia's house which becomes both a courtyard with a fountain, and a garden with a jacuzzi. Orsino's exterior walls open up into the interior of The Elephant (the pub where Antonio is supposed to meet Sebastian). Olivia's exterior walls open up like windows into the interior of a church featuring a giant neon cross where Olivia marries Sebastian.
Pictures credit: Marc Brenner for The National Theatre
D Radley-Bennett Vimeo of the Storyboard animation for the scenery. It's amazing. You must click on this link to see it in action. Words fail to describe how awesome it is.
As with many of Shakespeare's comedies, a girl disguises herself as a boy so that she can function in society. This production took gendered roles to a whole new level with their casting choices. The roles of Feste, Fabian, and Malvolio were all played as women. Tamsin Greig playing Malvolia. I loved her as Fran in Black Books. Terry Pratchett fans will remember her as the reporter Miss Crisplock Going Postal. Neil Gaiman fans will remember her as Lamia in the Neverwhere mini-series. She's a wonderful actress and is both perfectly pompous and pity-able as Malvolia. Another interesting casting choice is that Viola and Sebastian were played by Actors of Color, adding a lovely diversity to the romances. Another modernization included the street fight between Viola and Andrew where Antonio rescues her, was moved into The Elephant which was now a neon lit nightclub with a Drag Queen entertainer, singing the "To Be or Not to Be" speech from Hamlet as a torch song. I laughed so hard I snorted!
Malvolio's yellow stocking with cross-garters is always good for a laugh, but Malvolia gets the BEST costume in the whole show and is possibly the best Malvolio costume in the world, because it's not just one costume, but THREE! She comes out in a Periot sad clown costume over her yellow stockings and black cross garters and then strips that off to reveal a Playboy bunny-esque cone-boobed leotard with propellers on her nipples, covered by a skirt (unfortunately no photo of her wearing it in its second incarnation, although you can see where it's laying on the steps behind her in the second photo) and then strips off the skirt and turns on the propellers and they actually spin! OMG this was the most hilarious thing I've ever seen! I'm so glad that the National Theatre decided this was clip-worthy!
The next best costume was that of Andrew Aguecheek, who is dressed as a hipster with a man bun! So funny. Sir Toby is not padded out to be obese nor is he played by an already fat actor. In this production he becomes more of a scummy Leisure Suit Larry-esque character with more of a 1960's Brat Pack vibe. This is also the first time I've seen all of Olivia's ladies in waiting, as well as Maria all dressed in black. It makes so much more sense to do it that way, so that the first scene where "Cesario" meets Olivia and doesn't know which is the lady of the house, actually seems plausible.
The second time that Cesario visits Olivia to woo her, Olivia invites "him" back to her jacuzzi where Toby and company are having a pool party and everyone is in swim wear. Olivia hands Cesario a beach towel and a tiny gold Speedo to put on (which never happens) and then ends up pulling "him" into the pool fully dressed. Cesario is in a white men's shirt at the time which has now gone all see-thru in an unexpected and horrifyingly Wet T-shirt contest way. "He" is then forced to face away from Olivia while she is desperately trying to woo "him". Eventually Cesario is forced to get out, grabbing the towel, and clutching it in front of "his" chest.
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