Theatre review: Twelfth Night, Botanic Gardens, Glasgow

Twelfth Night left the audience in suspense when the weather  an abiding danger at the Bard In The Botanics  struck again. Picture: Contributed

Twelfth Night left the audience in suspense when the weather  an abiding danger at the Bard In The Botanics  struck again. Picture: Contributed

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It was all going so well at the Bard In The Botanics’ new production of Twelfth Night – the leafy outdoor setting, the fierce but strangely Shakespearean cross-casting, and the early Sixties look, complete with enviable play-list of hits from stars like Sandie Shaw and Cilla Black, plus nifty choreography by cast member Stephanie McGregor.

Twelfth Night | Rating: **** | Botanic Gardens, Glasgow

Then they sang It Might As Well Rain Until September; and right on cue, the ominous pitter-patter of sustained Glasgow rain swept through the trees at interval time, and brought the performance to an abrupt end.

Missing out on the second half of a show is a natural hazard of Bard In The Botanics, well worth it for compensating gorgeous sunlit evenings; but this time around, I was agog to see exactly what Jennifer Dick would do with the almost dizzying pattern of gender-bending she sets up in the first half.

It’s not that the gender of the characters is questioned – Emilie Patry’s Duke remains a lord and master, Viola and Olivia the ladies, despite Viola’s boyish disguise.

Yet with all the characters in the main love-plot played by actors of the opposite sex, the possibilities seem romantic, ridiculous and riotous, all at once.

What was clear, before the rains came, was that the show boasts a fine Sir Toby Belch in Kirk Bage, and a superbly poised Lady Olivia in Ryan Ferrie; and although it’s less obvious exactly what the Sixties setting has to do with it, the energy and wit is immense – perhaps enough to hold the rain at bay on at least a few occasions, before the final performance next weekend.

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