The Sumner, Southbank Theatre
November 16, 2018

“If music be the food of love, play on,” says Duke Orsino early in Twelfth Night, but music is only one reason why audiences will fall in love with this MTC production of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy. A dream cast, sublime design and assured direction make it a delightful end-of-year romp for theatre enthusiasts and dabblers alike.

Lachlan Woods and Esther Hannaford in MTC’s  Twelfth Night. Photo © Jeff Busby

A tale of mistaken identity, cross-dressing and unrequited love, this play is loaded with laughs. A shipwreck separates twins Sebastian and Viola, who disguises herself as a young man, Cesario, and is employed by Orsino as his romantic envoy to Countess Olivia. These three form an unlikely love triangle as Olivia falls for ‘Cesario’ – the spitting image of Sebastian, whose eventual appearance turns the comic confusion up to eleven. Meanwhile, Olivia’s steward, Malvolio, is tricked into thinking she loves him by her maid, Maria, her fool, Feste, and her riotous uncle, Sir Toby Belch, who is also manipulating the hapless Sir Andrew Aguecheek.

Apart from a few minor opening night wobbles with lines, the cast were a joy...