Illyria presents Twelfth Night: A Review

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em.”

Shakespeare at the Kymin. There are worse ways to spend a Friday evening.

The theatre company Illyria put on their performance of Twelfth Night, one of Shakespeare’s most well-known and loved comedies. And I was lucky enough to be invited to come and review it on Friday 25th at the Kymin, Penarth.

I remember enjoying reading this play when I was in high school and my love has been reignited for it since watching Illyria’s performance. The story follows Viola, who after being shipwrecked in Illyria, must disguise herself as a man, Cesario, and take a job at Court with Duke Orsino. The love-struck Duke send ‘Viola’ to woo the lady Olivia. But in a comedic turn of events, Olivia falls quickly in love with ‘Viola’. All the while a wicked plot is being put in place to humiliate Olivia’s uncle Sir Toby Belch.

This show has all the things that makes theatre so enjoyable. And it is no secret that performing a Shakespearean play is no easy task, but my hat goes off to the cast and crew of Illyria Theatre company. And with only 5 cast members, all playing alternate roles, they managed to create a delightful piece of theatre that the whole audience enjoyed. Their deliverance of the lines, the perfect comedic timings that had the audience in stitches, the incredible level of talent from each of them. 

Nick Taylor as Malvolio and Antonio, Amy Lockwood as Viola and Maria, Callum Stewart as Feste, Fabian, Sebastian and Valentine, MacKenzie Mellen as Olivia, Sir Andrew and Curio, and finally David Sayers as Orsino and Toby Belch. To emulate such iconic Shakespearean characters (and take on more than just one) and pull off such an incredible performance. I was in awe.

What I particularly loved about this performance, is that you don’t need to be an expert in Shakespeare to understand or appreciate it. A question was asked at the beginning of the performance, “who knows the story of Twelfth Night?”. Half the audience were unfamiliar and yet every single person laughed and smiled throughout, their eyes drawn to the colourful animated performances. And by the end, the audience cheered and applauded. 

And something has to be said about the location. I hadn’t been to an event in the Kymin before then, and I was unsure of how well it would work. But I was wonderfully surprised by just how perfect it was. Everyone in their camping chairs on the lawn, the one piece stage illuminated under the canopy of the trees. I found that it added the Shakespearean element even more so. 

The Illyria company are now continuing their UK tour until the 9th September. You can check out their website for other tour dates and their exciting upcoming performances. And you can follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to get more updates about what they have planned!