Twelfth Night and Roundhouse Theater

Loved that I got to see this before the Roundhouse tour from Tom. He explained to me the mechanism behind the water bits which was very interesting especially as it was my second favorite part. The best part? Malvolio. He was absolutely wonderful. I also found out the actor is the main character in the Tempest so I’m disappointed that I never go to see it. I’m also disappointed that I didn’t get to see Matilda as it came so highly recommended but by the time I decided to see it I was sold out for every available performance. However, this performance was spectacular. I wasn’t a huge fan of Twelfth Night when I read it, but since Shakespeare was intended for stage not page I’m glad of the opportunity to experience. The experience may have not made it a favorite as it did Antony and Cleopatra, but it did make the story “come to life” more than it can in writing. It was much more enjoyable and I also liked that I was able to see this particular performance. It was in a specialized venue (see below for description) and it also had unique parts such as characters emerging from water at the edge of the stage. The talent was great and I liked that, while it did have the “flashy” water bit, there were not a lot of special effects masking the talent on stage. I find myself preferring shows like this especially for that reason more and more. I really want to know if the actors are good or if there is just a talented technician behind-the-scenes. And I certainly have nothing against them – I do want to be one after all – but in general I find that I want them to play the “backseat” role (and I use that term very loosely since techies are always busy with something and very much in tune with what’s going on on-stage, their jobs, and how the two are fitting together – well they certainly are if they want to keep their jobs) and leave the overly flashy stuff to movies and music videos.

The Roundhouse tour then brought a new level to the production for me. This particular theater within a theater was built specifically for the three plays by the RSC which is going on tour across the pond and then onward from NYC! The move (and continued moves) will be crazy but this also means the Roundhouse is a blank slate – the theater space itself not just the stage. It can be and is used for multiple types of events. The venue began its life as a train station (steam powered trains) but was rendered unnecessary within 3 years. The building was then neglected until finally someone took it over and turned it into an artistic space. I won’t give away any of the secrets of the water bits (used in different shows) and the stage itself – but I will say that it is convertible and the mechanism was quite well designed – it was designed by one man (a kind of engineering type), then pieces were built in the construction warehouses of the RSC and finally a team of 10 guys built the entire inside theater and stage. They then re-set it each time a different play was on and took it down (to travel) a few days after my tour.

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