Siege Theatre: Twelfth Night (2019)

“If music be the food of love, play on!” Duke Orsino, Act I Scene I

Twelfth Night promotional image - Siege Theatre (M Speight)
Twelfth Night promotional image – Siege Theatre (M Speight)

Siege Theatre performed Twelfth Night from the 29th July – 10th August 2019 at the Oxford Castle and Prison, as part of the Oxford Shakespeare Festival.

This was, in short, a blast. Because of commitment clashes with the Loxwood Joust I did not audition to be on stage this year. CFD provided costume and props, and stage management for 9 out of the 12 performances across the two week run. I did get to watch the final night’s performance from the middle of Loxwood thanks to GeeksOnTheGo setting up a live-stream of the performance!

Performance gallery:

Costumes!

Twins: Sebastian (T Verey) and Viola (S Verey) - Photo CFD
Twins: Sebastian (T Verey) and Viola (S Verey) – Photo CFD

This year required a lot more costume than Romeo & Juliet, partly because we needed to perfectly match the Twins (Viola-Cesario, and Sebastian), and because I wanted to visually theme each house as much as possible: Duke Orsino’s house had clean, bright lines with sea-spray blues offset with points of silver and gold, everything was functional but flattering; on the other side Countess Olivia and her household were bedecked with rich jewel tones, heavy fabrics, embroidery, and heavy golds. I wanted it to be obvious that Olivia and Orsino were not suited to each other, despite Orsino’s many attempts to convince Olivia – and the audience – otherwise. Supporting characters had much more freedom with their colours, and sported earthier tones to show they had no set loyalty to either house and no vested interest in their politics.

Colour 'bricks' for Twelfth Night to get an idea of the colour balance across the cast - CFD
Colour ‘bricks’ for Twelfth Night to get an idea of the colour balance across the cast – CFD

The Twins were themed to Orsino’s colours to make them visually distinct when they shared almost all of their stage time with the Olivia-coloured mob. Almost nobody wore green, so that the infamous Box Tree would stand out against the stage, only the ‘foolish’ characters wore yellow, to emphasise Malvolio’s bright stockings that contrasted his dark blue and black costume. 

Where possible, I used natural fibre fabrics. I’ve found that with long productions that are outside, in all weathers, any natural fibre responds better to the quality of light and the frequency of wear! Olivia was in pure silks, Malvolio had a deep blue felted wool, the Twins had pure linen doublets, and most of the base layers were a cotton/linen blend for all characters. Aided by the vast costume selection Siege Theatre already holds, the production ended up looking fantastic and I am extremely proud of what we achieved together.

Reviews:

  • Daily Info – collected reviews for the Twelfth Night performances
    • “After seeing the previous Siege Theatre shows, as part of the Summer Shakespeare theatre, I was very much looking forward to seeing Twelfth Night – a well known comedy about mistaken identity. And I have to say, I was not disappointed in the slightest. What started off quite serious and sober in tone quickly escalated into hilarious fun, combining physical humour with witty delivery.All of the cast deserve a mention – they all play they parts perfectly. And the direction is superb, involving a large audience on three sides of the stage[…]” O. R. S. 
    • “[…]In addition to the performance itself, I must also draw attention to the exceptional costume design work by Clockwork Firebird Designs (clockworkfirebird.com). The attention to detail, particularly the individual crests, was above and beyond what was necessary but really helped with truly immersing the audience in the world of the play.[…]” – James_Ferriman 
  • Oxford Mail – reviewed by Stan Skarzynski, 14 August 2019
    • “The final production this year exceeds expectations as much as the first: Siege Theatre did an absolutely spectacular job to give its audience plenty of reasons to laugh – the play is not only nearly perfectly (and quite boldly!) cast, but it also fantastically stresses the comical rather than intellectual aspects of the Bard’s exploration of his well-known themes of separated twins (The Comedy of Errors) and misplaced romantic feelings (Midsummer Night’s Dream).”
Twelfth Night cast 2019 Siege Theatre - photo C Birdseye
Twelfth Night cast 2019 Siege Theatre – photo C Birdseye

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