This year’s Senior Production of Twelfth Night can be described quite simply as an ‘absolute triumph’. From the casting to the technical support, stage management choreography to set design, it was a successful coming together of incredibly talented individuals who worked phenomenally well as a dynamic team to produce a school play that is more than worthy of the West End, or indeed, the National Theatre! It was full of zest, fun and excellent performances.
The casting by Mrs Wafer paid off handsomely. Charlie Servonat-Blanc and Stephenson Catney (in their roles of Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek) are such instinctive comic actors who bounce off each other effortlessly. Then you have the enigmatic Ted Latus, playing Malvolio. The brilliant gulling scene is played out handsomely with Ted’s ability to read out the ‘fake’ letter and charismatically connect with the audience at the same time a real highlight. And, who will ever forget the yellow stockings??
Mrs Wafer’s staging is bright, inventive and boundlessly funny. The sense of timing from everyone was spot on, a difficult enough skill to have in any play but even more so for a Shakespeare Play. James Read’s playing of Feste, an itinerant musician, was another highlight. James’ voice can be equally at home in the Nave of the Cathedral as it was here in this intimate setting. He sang the play’s several songs feelingly.
And talking of music, the music played while the skilful stage team transitioned between scenes was wonderfully toe-tapping – another great idea. Thank you to the stage team (led by Florence Hand) of Millie Ackland, Julia Higgins, Hettie Holmes, Lily Wainwright, Isaac Quelvog and Ben Kirkwood, who all had parts as well in the production as companions, the Sea Captain and Servant to Olivia respectively. We look forward to seeing them all play bigger roles in the years to come.
Katie Care’s Countess Olivia is a spirited figure secretly jiving in her mourning dress and secretly drawn to Olivia Webb’s equally passionate and uninhibited Viola. Both Katie and Olivia’s performances are jaw-dropping. Their abilities to portray all the aspects of an emotional journey from meeting to falling in love is a joy to watch.
Playing the role of Maria is Orlagh Kirkwood. Orlagh has seamlessly moved from recital to theatre and is strong in this character and sparkles in her scenes. She tries to control the men, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Fabian (played by Jonathan Kobrus), however, that is a difficult job!! Charlie plays the drunken sot, Sir Toby, with humour and a cunning simplicity, while his offside, Stephenson, plays Sir Andrew in a very 1960s flamboyant style! His saucy demeanour is wonderful. Jonathan is well cast as the prankster, Fabian, who encourages Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Maria along with the fake letter to Malvolio. We are able to relate well to Jonathan’s excellent portrayal of Fabian.
Jacob Baker portrays a movingly conflicted Sebastian, supported superbly in their scenes by Francis Davies as Antonio. Aidan Turner, as Duke Orsino, hits exactly the right and characteristic note of a spurned lover. Because the language and gestures he uses to talk about love are so melodramatic, Orsino seems more in love with the idea of love than to actually be in love. This is a difficult skill to translate in a play of this magnitude to the audience, however, Aidan has little difficulty in doing this!
The strong supporting cast of Emma Ngomba (Waitress), Isaac McCann (Valentine), Finley O’Sullivan (Priest), and Mia Gray, Rhainnon Ackland, Ismena O’Rourke and Sophie Settery as the Trattoria Girls should not be underestimated. They are all on stage on numerous occasions and add to the visuals as well as helps to create the right ambiance in a number of scenes. Isaac’s guitar playing is also beautifully choreographed into a few of the scenes with James Read’s character, Feste.
Of course, none of this would have been possible or could have been achieved without the vision and direction of Mrs Wafer. In moving the production from the Watkins Hall to the Studio, this has presented Mrs W with a number of new challenges, all of which she has overcome with a breath-taking outcome.
There are many other people who need to be recognised and are all equally important parts in making the production possible. Thank you to:
James Wafer, Florence Hand and Isaac Quelvog for the Set Construction
James Read, Sophie Settery, Vivian Huang, Gavin Huang, Oiliva Webb and Tilly Holmes for the Scenic Design
Artur Giniiatullin for Publicity Photography
Gemma Lowe and Marc Rhodes for Publicity Design
Ben Francis for Lighting Operation
Emma Ngomba for Choreography
As well, I know Mrs Wafer would like me to thank Mrs Servonat, Mr King, Mrs Fellows, Mrs Lormor, Mrs Gilson, Bev Golding, James Marwood, Caron Harrison and the Catering team, LMS Estates Team and all parents and staff who have supported the pupils throughout and during the rehearsal and performance processes.
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