‘Shake’ is a highly unusual production based on William Shakespeare’s well-loved play Twelfth Night, hosted by the Lyceum Theatre, and performed in French with English surtitles.
There was some brilliant acting which, in the context of the parody, perhaps rendered the surtitles superfluous. The set consisted of a structure of ‘beach huts’, allowing for the slapstick of characters rushing in and out, banging doors whilst reprising, in some cases, their dual roles. Also on stage was a table, set with a white cloth and fruit and drink.
Vincent Berger gave a bravura treatment to the characters Sir Toby/Sir Andrew where Viola/Sebastian were the dual roles of Delphine Cognord. The lovely Olivia was played by Valerie Crouzet and Orsino/Malvolio by Antonio Gil Martinez. The cast was completed by Geoffrey Covey as Festo.Â Perhaps intended to shock, the pouring of a fire bucket full of water over the Â body of his/her character did not add a great deal to my personal enjoyment and the audience seemed unsure whether or not to laugh. (This was the afternoon performance and I can’t imagine from where the players would find the energy to repeat the whole performance in the evening).
The Director, Dan Jemmet and his team (greater in number than the actors) certainly made sure there was no pause in the action. Dan is an associate artist of Maison des Arts Thonon-Evian. In fact, the two hour production without an interval was perhaps too long, given the deliberatelyÂ chaoticÂ atmosphere – constant banging of the ‘beach hut’ doors punctuated by loud music and the unexplained introduction of a puppet and puppet master, reminding one of a Punch and Judy show.
I remain unsure whether a previous knowledge of the more traditional rendition of the complicated, often humorous as well as amorous,Â Twelfth Night would be an advantage or not…
To sum up, this was aÂ most unusual performanceÂ based on a well-loved original play. It was, undoubtedly, a brave and indeed bold experiment, giving an entirely new look to one of William Shakespeare’s best-loved plays, in the 400th anniversary year of hisÂ death.
The was a co-production of Theatre de Carouge – Atelier de Geneve, Theatre National de Nice. Centre Dramatique National Nice Cote d’Azur and Maison des Arts Thonon-Evian. It was first performed at the Theatre de Vichy,Lausanne in 2001. Production was by Eat a Crocodile with Delegated Production by Le K Samka.