Twelfth Night, Octagon, Bolton - review

Music may be the food of love, but Lancashire provides the menu here.

Based on the premise Shakespeare’s ‘lost years’ could have been spent educating the offspring at Hoghton Tower and Knowsley Hall, director David Thacker infers it may also have taught the Bard about ‘upstairs, downstairs’ etiquette at the time.

So his characters know their place in the social order, even if they have been shifted on to the 20th century. Malvolio the butler remains the ultimate social climber, but Count Orsino becomes a piano-playing aristo, Olivia - the object of his desire – a more emancipated woman, while Feste the ukulele-playing clown channels a little of George Formby.

It’s a potent recipe, if not yet quite fully cooked.

Thacker keeps nearly all his cast - most of them in mourning - on stage throughout, which tends to make the first act feel rather too sorry for itself, slowing down the cinematic ‘quick cuts’ between scenes that are required.

Overall though, the skilled editing of the text, a clarity to its delivery and a mashing up of several scenes makes for an entertaining Lancashire Night...Owt?

It runs until March 22.

David Upton