Tag Archives: George Maguire

Twelfth Night

Bridge House Theatre

Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night

Bridge House Theatre

Reviewed – 19th July 2019



“the huge amount of thought, work, imagination and versatility makes this Twelfth Night an enjoyable evening of love, laughter and, of course, cross-dressing”


Joining recent updated versions of Shakespearean favourites, Bridge House Productions presents a bright and spirited Twelfth Night with a colourful crowd of characters, plenty of music and lashings of vitality. Without any specific resetting, director, Guy Retallack, designs each role to become a modern and, in some cases, unusual conception of the original, bringing a refreshing take on the familiar script. As the audience sits around the shore of Illyria – a discreetly tasteful set by Natalie Johnson – five talented actors multitask, changing accents and costumes to create an array of distinctive personalities to tell this tale of love with energy, commitment and skill.

The lighting (Richard Williamson) and sound (Phil Lee) both fill the small theatre space with atmosphere but unlike other recent productions – Othello in the British Raj, the digital Facebook world of Much Ado, pre-war 1920s Midsummer Night’s Dream – Guy Retallack’s adaptation lacks a focal point in time or place for the cast to work around and identify with; without it, the performance doesn’t quite gel. The direction concentrates on a group of interesting and innovative individuals with a bond in certain relationships such as Sir Toby and Sir Andrew, but missing in others, importantly between Orsino and Viola. There are moments, for example Malvolio’s letter-reading, where a feeling of ensemble comes from some superb choreography by Paul Harris, but the denouement in the second half slackens without the natural integration of the characters to spark each other off.

Already a complexity of hidden identities, the doubling up by the company adds another layer to the melange. We discover their various qualities and facets, stretched to envelop the many contrasting portrayals. Eve Niker slips deftly into Viola’s disguise as Cesario and then switches to a wonderful, twinklingly Irish Maria. As Orsino and Malvolio, George Maguire steps from sleek American to pinched English, perhaps blending slightly towards the end, while, as well as enhancing the show with his live music, Ben Woods plays a diverse selection of parts, notably a hippie Feste and nit-witted Sir Andrew. Fayez Bakhsh (Sir Toby) and Miriam Grace Edwards (Olivia) both find an approach which sheds new light on clichéd interpretations and we hear Shakespeare’s lines with fresh voices

At almost three hours, it is a substantial rendering of this comedy. Nonetheless, the huge amount of thought, work, imagination and versatility makes this Twelfth Night an enjoyable evening of love, laughter and, of course, cross-dressing.


Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington

Photography courtesy Bridge House Productions


Twelfth Night

Bridge House Theatre until 16th July


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Plaid Tidings | ★★★ | December 2018


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35mm: A Musical Exhibition

The Other Palace

Reviewed – 20th September 2017





“Oliver’s lyrics have shades of light and dark, but do occasionally feel contrived and exacting”



The concept is fascinating: a series of photographs have inspired songs. Whilst each photograph is deliberately abstract and enigmatic, composer and lyricist Scott Oliver has managed to tease out a narrative from each image, dressing them in human form and creating a varied gallery of vignettes.

The accent is clearly on the music rather than the photographs. Projected onto the back wall during the accompanying songs, they were sometimes lost, sometimes irrelevant and sometimes confusing. But the songs hold the show together, and trying to discover a through line quickly becomes unnecessary as the audience relaxes and enjoys the performances.

The musical arrangements sweep a broad spectrum, encompassing rock, gospel, country, pop, musical comedy amongst other genres. But there is a danger that it becomes too much of a mixed bag. It is at its best when kept simple, giving space to the gorgeous harmonies of the singers. Each of the five cast members are allowed to shine at various points, but nobody attempts to steal the show, always sensitive to the belief that the landscape is more important than the snapshot.

Oliver’s lyrics have shades of light and dark, but do occasionally feel contrived and exacting, and although the melodies too are sometimes overly intricate, the performers rise to the challenge. Stand out moments are Gregor Duncan’s and Samuel Thomas’s duet: “The Seraph”, “Leave Luanne” with its staccato cello arrangement reminiscent of The Beatle’s Sergeant Pepper, and “Mama, Let Me In” whose sparse piano yields to a cross wave of gospel harmonies.

The evening does, however, steer close to indulgence. Like a seventies concept album there is insufficient awareness of the audience and as such one can feel disengaged. I did ask myself ‘who is this for?’ in the same way I would at an installation. This isn’t musical theatre, but then again it probably never set out to be. But it does need something more; visually it remained weak, and budgetary restrictions gave scant justice to the back projections of the photographs. But Adam Lenson’s uncluttered direction uses these restrictions to his advantage, adapting well to the intimacy of the studio space, placing the accomplished six-piece band alongside the audience.

Although the concept is fascinating, it still feels it’s at the conception stage. In parts underdeveloped, but you can make allowances for this, and the accomplished performances make it quite thrilling. For music fans of any genre this is highly recommended.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Nick Brittain Photography




is at The Other Palace until 30th September 2017



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