Social Media

Twelfth Night - Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre Review

Reviewed by Jess Green
Tickets were gifted in return for an honest review

It's always a risk, planting yourself in the audience of an unfamiliar Shakespeare play. Will the evening hold enrapture and marvel, or an ill-concealed nap...?

Cast of Twelfth Night. Photo by Richard Lakos.

I am thrilled to say that this production of the comedic Twelfth Night, the origin play of some of Shakespeare's most parrotted lines, is eye-catching, entertaining and genuinely very funny. Doubtlessly one of the easiest plots of his to follow, I was captivated by the cast's cleverly balanced interpretation, expertly flitting between the serious and the frivolous. 

Evelyn Miller's Viola (masquerading as Cesario) was expert. Her diction and tone was like listening to molten chocolate and her emotional portrayal of Viola's anguish was steadfast. 

Richard Cant too, shone. He made Malvolio into the exact odious man we all know and wish to see get his comeuppance. It completely rang true that he would indeed, believe an unlikely woman so in love with him. His comedy was sharp and he made the more slapstick elements much less silly than they might’ve been. 

Anna Francolini, was muti-faceted in her heartbreak and her obsession. Her styling, was a huge aid to this and a highlight of the show, created (by costume designer Ryan Dawson Laight and Wigs, hair and makeup designer Carole Hancock) to look almost like a cross between Helena Bonham-Carter and a Wallace and Gromit character. 

Michael Matus' excellent drag persona throughout threw light on the jubilant, camp essence of this play, whilst the earnest performances between Sebastian (Andro Copperthwaite) and Antonio (Nicholas Karimi) showed the more serious side of a queer relationship.

Evelyn Miller (Viola) & Raphael Bushay (Orsino). Photo by Richard Lakos.

What Regent's Park Open Air Theatre does so well, is allowing directors (in this case Owen Horsley) to take a well known show, and use their stage to take it in a boldly fresh direction: Legally Blonde and Jesus Christ Superstar to name a few. Here, the plot lines of queer romance and sexual confusion, have been taken and used as a springboard to create a show of queer celebration and acceptance. The imagery and code Shakespeare uses to hint at gay relationships, have been made explicit and in 2024, this really is to the benefit of the story and to audience enjoyment. 

The set (Basia Bińkowska) was beautiful and functional, settled well into it's backdrop nest of trees, whilst providing doors to slam and steps to trip on for some of the moments of more physical comedy. The lighting (Aideen Malone) was stunning, blue hues during the earlier scenes, to reflect the weighty themes of grief, but turning pinker throughout the play, as humour overtook the sadness. The production as a whole manages to truly encaptivate the comedy of the script, leaving the audience belly laughing (no mean feat with such archaic language!), whilst also bringing the focus and the mood back to the real theme of this play - the overwhelming sadness of grief. As in life, you can laugh and play tricks, but it doesn't undo or rid a person of the ever-present feeling of loss. 

As with all Shakespeare scripts, and through no fault of the production, this was about 20 minutes too long. Brevity doesn't seem to have been a skill of the Bard's, but presumably it was less imperative back in Tudor times, to leave in time for the last tube home...


Twelfth Night plays at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre until 8th June 2024. Tickets are available from

Anna Francolini (Olivia). Photo by Richard Lakos.

Post a Comment


Theme by STS