REVIEW: Twelfth Night at Arundel Castle

How it should have looked: A publicity shot for Shakespeare at Arundel Cathedral    PICTURE BY CHRIS HOPKINS

How it should have looked: A publicity shot for Shakespeare at Arundel Cathedral PICTURE BY CHRIS HOPKINS

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Summer rain was an unwelcome interloper as Shakespeare’s Twelfth night, a comic tale of tangled love and mistaken identity, unfolded in the grounds of Arundel Castle.

Visions of chilled wine and strawberries were swept away as the heavens opened and a sea of umbrellas greeted a torrential downpour just as the play was about to begin.

But typical English stoicism won the day, and both cast - and audience - dug in for a journey through romance and intrigue, albeit with damp clothes and accompanying drizzle.

With leafy scenery bathed in a golden glow and the awesome backdrop of Arundel Cathedral, it was a delight to be transported away to idyllic Illyria.

Here girls, inexplicably disguised as boys, capture the hearts of wealthy countesses as lusty dukes pursue love unrequited. Oh, and there’s also a twin brother lost in shipwreck who adds to the confused romance.

GB Theatre Company lived up to its fine reputation with an admirable production which moved along at a cracking pace.

The entire cast is to be commended for fine performances as they not only battled the elements but managed to completely ignore the inclement weather.

Jennifer Higham deserves special praise as Viola, and Vincenzo Pellegrino made his mark as Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Alex Gartshore was boisterous as Feste the clown.

Chris Yapp, however, failed to pull out all the stops as Malvolio, a role that truly deserves a bombastic, larger-than-life performance.

A minor flaw given the circumstances, and as the rain held off for the final acts, both audience and performers deserved the warm applause.