I, Malvolio

Tim Crouch, after William Shakespeare
Traverse 2

Tim Crouch's sensitive portrait of Shakespeare's exemplary Puritan is a slightly odd choice for the Traverse.

That is not a judgement on the quality of the short piece but its intended audience. At the press performance, nobody in the house was under 20, while I, Malvolio and its three sister pieces about other Shakespearean nonentities have been written to imbue schoolchildren with a love of the Bard.

As a result, several of the jokes inevitably fell flat and the atmosphere of mischief that Crouch has striven so hard to achieve did not happen.

What is left is a touching vision of a man out of his place. Malvolio thinks that he should be loved and cannot understand the motivations of those with whom he interacts.

That mental block comes through strongly, especially the steward's dislike and incipient jealousy of both his antithesis, Sir Toby Belch and the boy-girl-man, whom he does not even deign to name.

It would have been lovely to see I, Malvolio performed to a bunch of 12-year-olds but even so, it represents an enjoyable 50 minutes of theatre.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher