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Theatre review: RSC’s digital delight

Delirium: Ade Edmondson is Malvolio


Twelfth Night

RSC Marquee TV ★★★★✩

THERE’LL be time enough to count the creative cost of lockdown but for the moment it’s time to treat theatre like Sunday-night TV, an escapist treat for frazzled minds at the end of another taxing week — except, of course, that you can access it any time you want. The most recent company to go digital is the RSC, whose 2017 Twelfth Night hit subscription service Marquee this weekend.

It stars an almost unrecognisable Ade Edmondson as Malvolio, the joyless servant of Olivia (Kara Tointon) in Shakespeare’s late comedy of romantic delirium. Trussed up like a puritan vicar, he’s everyone’s party-pooping nightmare, a self-deluded pompous twit whose uncharacteristic display of unhinged merriment on believing himself the object of Olivia’s affections has the aghast servants amusingly gawping through the doorway.

He’s just one of several strong points in Christopher Luscombe’s crowd-pleaser, which uses a fin de siècle setting to underline the play’s notes of imperial decadence and repressed longing. The convoluted love quartet of Tointon, Nicholas Bishop’s lovelorn Orsino, Dinita Gohil’s radiant Viola (one of the best I’ve seen) and her twin brother Sebastian acquires real poignancy.

Meanwhile Michael Cochrane’s utterly delightful, permanently pickled Sir Andrew Aguecheek is worth the subscription fee alone.

More theatre online

Treasure Island

Treasure Island is the latest National Theatre hit to be streamed free. Starts Thursday.


Perhaps only Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s immortal creation can see us through this crisis. Donations to Covid-19 charities are encouraged.

Flowers For Mrs Harris

This heartwarming musical treat is the first in a new digital programme from Chichester Festival Theatre and is available for free until May 8. mrs-harris-broadcast