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Propeller Twelfth Night / Taming of the Shrew tour Spring 2013

Jan McNulty

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I've mentioned Propeller before and I cannot tell you again how much I recommend this wonderful company.


It is an all-male company that specialises in Shakespeare.  What I love about the way the productions are mounted is that the women are played by men who dress in women's clothes but are not the "Stage Beauties" of long ago.


Twelfth Night is one of my favourite plays and this is a wonderful revival of an earlier Propeller production.  It is a wonderful ensemble cast.  The set is quite dark - consisting of items of enlarged furniture - wardrobes, a chest of drawers and, bizarrely, a mirrored coffin.  The costumes are black suits and black dresses for Olivia and Maria.  Viola/Cesario and Sebastian wear lighter coloured suits.


With Viola being played by a man playing a woman playing a man, it brings out an interesting sexual ambiguity particularly between Viola/Cesario and Orsino.


The whole cast gels brilliantly.  It is physically funny - the scene where Maria, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Feste are listening in to Malvolio when he find the letter is absolutely hilarious.  The production also brings in the darker side where Malvolio is brought down and I ended up feeling really sad for him.


This is such an uplifting and intelligent production.  It is still touring - please go and see it if you get the chance.


We are seeing Shrew on Friday and can't wait!



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Just home from seeing Taming of the Shrew.  It was an utterly magnificent performance all round.  The first half is hilarious with a lot of physical humour.  The second half is much darker as the humiliation of Kate starts and continues - it is not comfortable to watch but it is enthralling.  As the brutalisation of Kate continues you could feel a palpable tension in the audience - I have never heard such silence before - you really could have heard a pin drop.


Propeller is very much an ensemble with excellent performances all round.  I must say, however, that Dan Wheeler was truly outstanding as Katherine.


If you only go to the theatre once this year, please go and see the wonderful Propeller Theatre Company.

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They were the ones who did that marvellous all-male Midsummer Night's Dream (I had to stop myself going on autopilot and typing "Swan Lake" there!) a few years ago, weren't they?  I loved it, and went back to see it at least once.

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