Shakespeare's Twelfth Night cruises into St Albans at the Maltings Arts Theatre

PUBLISHED: 12:08 01 April 2019 | UPDATED: 12:39 01 April 2019

OVO presents Shakespeare’'s Twelfth Night at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans. Picture: Louise Morris.

OVO presents Shakespeare''s Twelfth Night at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans. Picture: Louise Morris.

Lou Morris

Members of OVO are bringing their unique blend of Shakespeare and musical numbers back to the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans.

This time the St Albans theatre company is reinvigorating Shakespeare’s classic comedy Twelfth Night – and it will be set on a cruise liner in the 1920s.

You can see the musical production at the Maltings from Thursday, April 4 to Saturday, April 6, and then from Thursday, April 11 to Saturday, April 13, at 8pm each night.

On the SS Illyria, two campaigns are being quietly waged – one by the lovesick Duke Orsino against the heart of the indifferent Olivia, and the other by an alliance of servants and hangers-on against the high-handedness of her steward, the pompous Malvolio.

When Orsino engages the cross-dressed Viola to plead with Olivia on his behalf, a hilarious and bittersweet chain of events follows.

Director Adam Nichols explains OVO’s choice of setting.

“In Twelfth Night some of the play’s key themes include social class, flexible notions of gender and the hedonistic lifestyle of a group of ‘bright young things’.

“The 1920s seemed a natural fit and the decision to set the play on a boat ties in well with the play’s original location on the island of Illyria – in our case the SS Illyria.”

OVO pride themselves on making Shakespeare accessible and entertaining.

Previous OVO musical Shakespeare productions have included Much Ado About Nothing in a 1950s diner, The Merry Wives of Windsor at an 80s rock festival, and As You Like It in the summer of love.

Suspension of disbelief is a key component of theatre and with this in mind director Adam Nichols said: “All the vastly expensive trappings of the modern British theatre have often made it unnecessarily expensive to stage and blinded audiences to its real purpose and power.

“We believe that we can create exciting and artistically innovative theatre without financial riches, and that necessity is often the motherhood of invention.

“We don’t do realism. In the 21st century, realism is for television and the movies.

“Far better to let the audience’s imagination do the work for you.”

Shakespeare meets postmodern jukebox in a musical version featuring music by Rihanna, Britney Spears and Radiohead.

Although the setting, the visuals and the music are all important, the language is the most important element.

Even if you think Shakespeare ‘isn’t for you’, OVO are confident that they will bring the text to life.

Tickets cost £13.50, £11 concessions, and £7.50 under-18s.

Visit www.ticketsource.co.uk/ovo to book tickets, or buy them on the door.

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