THEATRE REVIEW: When ‘What You Will’ becomes a collection of ‘What Ifs’

WHAT YOU WILL: Doom Mackichan as Feste and Tamsin Grieg as Malvolia in Simon Godwin's NT Live production of William  Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.  Photo by Marc Brenner.
WHAT YOU WILL: Doom Mackichan as Feste and Tamsin Grieg as Malvolia in Simon Godwin's NT Live production of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Photo by Marc Brenner.
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Twelfth Night, National Theatre Live, South Holland Centre, Spalding

The line “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and others have greatness thrust upon them” is from William Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night.

Subtitled “What You Will”, this tale of mistaken identity and drunken chaos was given the 21st century treatment by London’s National Theatre.

English literature students, Shakespeare devotees and fans of actress Tamsin Greig (Green Wing, Friday Night Dinner, The Archers) were served a treat from the Bard of Avon in Spalding on Thursday.

The play is supposed to revolve around brother and sister Sebastian and Viola who are split up after a shipwreck and end up in contrasting worlds.

Posing as her brother, Viola falls in love with Orsino, Duke of Illyria, on the rebound from his failure to land rich countess Olivia who ends up marrying Sebastian.

This was meant to be Greig’s play, with Phoebe Fox (Eye in the Sky, A View From the Bridge) the main support act as Olivia.

At times, it was easy to feel sorry for Tamara Lawrance (Viola) and Daniel Ezra (Sebastian) who were given the impossible task of holding their characters up against such thespian might.

In fact, the show was stolen blind from all of them by Tim McMullan (Sir Toby Belch) and Daniel Rigby (Sir Andrew Ague-Cheek) who showed that Shakespeare came long before the Benny Hills and Carry On films of this world.

Review by Winston Brown