Twelfth Night or The Ship of Fools

William Shakespeare

Livewire Theatre

theSpace on the Mile

From 05 August 2016 to 13 August 2016

Rating: ****

Review by Graeme Strachan

Livewire Theatre returns to the Fringe stage with its usual combination of historical fiction, bent to whim, and in this case it's confronting the Bard with a relocation of his cross-dressing comedic venture Twelfth Night to an idyllic Spanish holiday resort in the early 1980s.

But, as is the practice with Livewire, its plays invariably have more going on beneath the surface, aside from the usual quirks of questioning the gender norms that arise from Twelfth Night's cross-dressing romance.

This time, there's a deep, brooding undercurrent of something dark and sinister beneath the garish surface of sunhats, blinging jewellery and alcohol. The choice to divide the role of Feste up between a party of fools is an inspired turn, turning a sly, winking but playful figure into a subversive band of miscreants who allude to a far darker interpretation of the entire production.

If there's a misstep in the play, it's that the inclusion of rather a lot of contemporary added dialogue in the front end of the play sits slightly incongruously with the Shakespearean text in the opening scenes. But, as the cast sonorously declaim from atop the familiar double stepladder prop, it hardly matters, as the wonderful adventure already has you.