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Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

TWELFTH NIGHT at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre


“The emotional stakes reach the treetops in the park. The magic shoots for the stars. It is innovative, funny, cheeky, camp and degenerate.”

I’ve never really been sure where Illyria was geographically, but walking away from Regent’s Park, as the moon rises and the lights twinkle through the greenery, the urge to pinpoint it on the map is great. It seems to be somewhere between Montenegro and Croatia. But what a fabulous holiday destination it would make. Not for the sun and the sea, mind. But the locals. According to Owen Horsley’s louche version of “Twelfth Night”, there’s a little harbour café, named after its eccentric owner, Olivia. Its décor as unprincipled as the people that gather there, full of debauchery, music, liquor and queerness. It is Olivia’s world. Played by the tremendous Anna Francolini, Olivia grandly presents herself, channelling Norma Desmond, veiled in black lace and bluesy piano chords in five-four time. Belting ballads and clutching her brother’s ashes, Francolini sets the tone. Loud in her grief, silent in her longing, and always self-mocking.

You just want to go there and while away the early hours with this motley crew. The bar has seen better days. And so has Sir Toby Belch. Michael Matus, as off-duty and off-his-head drag queen, is a loveably licentious Toby, smeared in campness and lipstick. Matthew Spencer’s Andrew Aguecheek is a foppish travelling salesman type. A sofa-crasher, teetering on the verge of outstaying his welcome. Anita Reynold’s Maria is on hand to out-mischief her mischievous colleagues, while Julie Legrand’s Feste is primed with wistful wisdom, ready to out-sing her hostess. Weaving himself into the throng is Malvolio, a deliciously prim Richard Cant with sinewy self-righteousness, flexing his indignation like a haughty schoolmistress.



The band of musicians add merriment and melancholy in equal measure. Late night jazz adds magic to the twilight while a saxophone cries to the moon. The intended queerness that Horsley is unearthing from Shakespeare’s text is less a celebration than an extra layer. What comes across more is the eccentricity and the camaraderie, the joie-de-vivre and the affectionate rivalry. Shipwrecked, and stumbling into this mayhem, Viola (the brilliantly sassy Evelyn Miller) surprisingly takes it all in her stride. Mind you, she has just run into the dashing Orsino (a thoughtful and commanding Raphael Bushay), so her mind is on other matters. Dressed as a boy – Cesario – she is reluctantly despatched to persuade Olivia of Orsino’s unrequited love. But damn it all – Olivia swoops out of her veil to pop her lusty eyes on the alluring amorousness that Cesario/Viola exudes.

Interestingly, the secondary plotline explores the unrequited love more convincingly. Antonio draws the short straw, always the one left alone at the end of the play. Nicholas Karimi is a potent symbol of loyalty, also subtly conveying the shadowed buds of love for Sebastian. Andro Cowperthwaite (a dead-ringer for Miller’s Viola), while returning the affection has the thankless task of being too easily seduced by Olivia. We never lose sympathy, but the haste with which the happy couples all come together is a flaw which dents our empathy. Similarly, the cruelty towards Malvolio fails to come across sufficiently, and his vow for revenge resembles a telling off in an unruly classroom. What is achieved, however, is a novel and refreshing sense of forgiveness, which steers us towards a finale steeped in affection and fellowship.

The emotional stakes reach the treetops in the park. The magic shoots for the stars. It is innovative, funny, cheeky, camp and degenerate. Again, if only this bar could be found in a holiday brochure. I’d be there like a shot. You just want to spend as much time as possible with these characters. Well – actually – you can do that by going to the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park. And I strongly urge you to do so.

TWELFTH NIGHT at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Reviewed on 9th May 2024

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Richard Lakos





Previously reviewed at this venue:

LA CAGE AUX FOLLES | ★★★★★ | August 2023
ONCE ON THIS ISLAND | ★★★★ | May 2023
LEGALLY BLONDE | ★★★ | May 2022
ROMEO AND JULIET | ★★★½ | June 2021

Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night

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Intruder | Intruz


VAULT Festival




“There’s a lot packed into this sixty five minute show, and it will make you think”


Polish actor Remi Rachuba gives a high octane account of his early experiences teaching English in his one man show Intruder/Intruz. The most important part of this story, however, is not that Rachuba goes to Scotland to be a teacher, but that he wants to come to Scotland to follow his dream of becoming an actor. Such a circuitous route into the acting profession is, as might be expected, fraught with pitfalls. Rachuba, to his credit, manages to present this tale in a way that is by turns, funny, horrifying and ultimately uplifting.

Intruder/Intruz begins, after a comic lesson in Glaswegian slang, with a violent mugging. What follows is a non-linear telling of Rachuba’s attempts to report the crime against him, and participate in restorative justice against his attackers. Switching rapidly between scenes set in Glasgow, Warsaw, and Edinburgh, among others, Rachuba presents us with a play about a man who refuses to be beaten down even when he is being beaten up.

Intruder/Intruz is an unusual piece because it is told in English, Polish and Glaswegian. Rachuba is obviously fluent in all three—no mean feat. This fact is important because Intruder/Intruz is not just a drama about an English teacher struggling to teach in extraordinarily difficult circumstances, and about a series of attacks, both physical and linguistic, upon him. Audiences might be forgiven for thinking that the Intruder in the title is just a reference to Rachuba’s attackers, and the phobias that threaten his psychological well being after the event. But Intruz has another meaning as well. That of the intruder—an unwelcome immigrant—arriving in a foreign land. Intruder/Intruz is an eye opening account of the violence that immigrants have to reckon with, as they move to a different country to pursue a dream. There’s a lot packed into this sixty five minute show, and it will make you think.

Intruder/Intruz is also not the most accessible of shows unless you are, like its creator, fluent in English, Polish and Glaswegian. If you aren’t, quite a few of Rachuba’s words are going to be lost because there are no subtitles to help. It’s hard to tell from moment to moment where you are in time in the story, as Rachuba switches with breath taking speed from present to past and back again. He is an engaging performer, and director Marcus Montgomery Roche makes the most of the space at the Network Theatre. But the threads of Rachuba’s narrative bend and weave until suddenly, without much warning, you’re at the end. The individual scenes in Intruder/Intruz, such in Rachuba’s classroom with his special needs students; his acting audition; his encounter with a student in a Polish casino before an important English test, are memorable—and wryly humorous. These moments of comedy contrast vividly with the violence that is at the heart of this piece. And there are also moments when you wonder how Rachuba could ever summon up the courage to return to the places where he was under such constant attack.

If you’re looking for a solo show that is distinctively different, and you don’t mind a linguistic challenge—you will find Intruder/Intruz well worth your time. It is an energetic show from an actor who left Warsaw and came to Glasgow to realize his dream.


Reviewed on 28th January 2023

by Dominica Plummer

Photography by Robin Mitchell


Vault Festival 2023


Other shows reviewed at VAULT Festival:


Caceroleo | ★★★★ | January 2023
Cybil Service | ★★★★ | January 2023


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