Photo: Richard Lakos

We’re big fans of the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park – on a warm evening there’s something quite magical about watching the play unfold against a beautiful sunset. On press night we had perfect conditions – which, sadly, can’t be guaranteed every night – and we had an enchanting evening with this newly-imagined, and delightfully camp and queer, version of Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night, directed by Owen Horsley.

For those unfamiliar, Twelfth Night is a comedy about mistaken identity: Viola (Evelyn Miller) and her twin brother Sebastian (Andro Cowperthwaite) have been shipwrecked, with each believing the other has drowned. When Viola goes undercover as a boy to gain employment things start to get complicated – what follows is a tale of confused feelings, love triangles and deception. Oh, and we also have a drag queen – with Michael Matus in the role of Sir Toby Belch – because shows are always better with drag queens, right?

It all combines to make for an amusing evening of theatrical fun. There are plenty of impressive performances on stage throughout the show, although we must give Richard Cant a mention for his incredible Malvolio – his soliloquy, and the subsequent post-script, is the standout moment of the evening, receiving whoops and cheers from the press night audience. Credit must also go to Anna Francolini’s Olivia: the over-the-top theatricality of her performance is perfect, and hers is one of the most dramatic stage entrances we’ve seen in quite some time.

We had a charming evening with this wonderfully queer staging of Twelfth Night – we’re aware that a Shakespeare play might not be for everyone, although in terms of Shakespeare it’s really quite accessible. It’s full of warmth, wit, humour and music, we have wonderful outfits, characters in drag… and it all unfolds against the backdrop of a magical sunset. What’s not to love?

GAY TIMES gives Twelfth Night – 4/5

More information can be found here.