The Manchurian Candidate at Broadway Cinema

I’ve never seen the original, so I don’t know how this version of The Manchurian Candidate compares, but I enjoyed it. Particularly liked Liev Schreiber – nice combination of emotional control and childlike vulnerability.

Twelfth Night (William Shakespeare) – Bell Shakespeare production at the Playhouse Theatre (Sydney Opera House)

This was not what you might call a subtle production. For me, Twelfth Night is primarily a poetic love story, in which the Malvolio subplot interferes. This director obviously preferred to emphasise the bawdy aspects of the play. Feste, in particular, was rather more crass than I would have liked – though I can’t deny he was funny.

I’m not a huge fan of Twelfth Night done in modern dress. However, allowing for this, I did quite like some of the costuming choices. Sir Andrew as sort of would-be tough punk was fun, as was Orsino listening through earphones to music on an MP3 player (although I wouldn’t have said it had a “dying fall”). I also rather liked the rent-a-cop look of Orsino’s guards. Viola managed to look very much like a scruffy teenage boy, which was effective in some scenes, but did lead one to wonder what Olivia found to fall in love with. I was unpleasantly reminded of the American court case about the teacher who had entered into a relationship with a 14-year-old (?) student.

The production opened with Viola and Sebastian in the storm. They used real water, but unfortunately, because they obviously couldn’t flood the whole stage, it looked rather more like Viola and Sebastian under the shower. It was actually a lot more effective at the end, when they reused the apparatus to make it rain on Feste as he finished singing “Wind and the Rain”.

I didn’t find any of the performances particularly outstanding, though neither were they particularly bad. I probably enjoyed Genevieve Hegney’s Olivia the most. I thought Viola was very patchy, but then she is my absolute favourite heroine in all of Shakespeare, and I have some very firm ideas about her character, so I suppose I was bound to be disappointed. Nevertheless, I don’t think Caroline Craig is any threat to my two all-time favourite Violas – Felicity Kendal (1980 BBC TV production) and Imogen Stubbs (1996 film).

The production emphasised the broad humour, and somewhat de-emphasised the poetry, of the play. Not really my preferred balance, but nonetheless an enjoyable evening at the theatre.