dir Peter Hall, National Theatre,
11th January-2nd March
Sold out: Returns or queue on the day for tickets
One of Peter Hall’s definitive productions in launching the RSC in 1960 was a youthful Twelfth Night with Dorothy Tutin, Geraldine McEwan and Ian Holm. It remains one of his favourite plays, a melancholic, masterpiece which, like Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and Verdi’s Falstaff, celebrates the absurdity of human behaviour.
There’s added piquancy in the NT presenting a play about growing up as an 80th birthday present to Hall, who was given carte blanche by the National’s artistic director, Nicholas Hytner. So he’s directing his own daughter as the gender-bending Viola, in the Cottesloe, the smallest of the NT auditoria. Rebecca Hall made her debut as a nine year old in her dad’s Channel 4 production of Mary Wesley’s The Camomile Lawn. Now 28, she is a rising movie star who appeared in Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige and Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and has the wit and willowy grace to be perfect in the role.
Fifty years on, Hall has been newly startled by the homosexual streak and complicated eroticism of the play: Antonio besotted with Viola’s lost twin brother, and Viola captivating the count Orsino when disguised as a boy. Expect mellow moodiness, as well as high spirits, in a cast including Amanda Drew as Olivia, Simon Callow as Toby Belch and the brilliant Simon Paisley Day as the spoilsport steward Malvolio.