Reviews - 2011 shows
Review: Twelfth Night at Arundel Castle
by Gary Shipton, West Sussex Gazette
Dark sadistic subplot dominates
Twelfth Night or What You Will by
William Shakespeare in the gardens at Arundel Castle. Directed by Michael
Even in Shakespeare’s frothiest comedies such as this,
there is a dark, sadistic streak to be detected.
For all the fun of romance and mistaken identity which is the hallmark
of so much of the bard’s lighter works, the real black comedy is derived
from the treatment of Malvolio - the Lady Olivia’s pompous head steward.
Having convinced Malvolio through a forged letter that Olivia is in love
with him he is encouraged to dress in the brightest yellow stockings and
smile in such a grotesque manner that he is cast aside as utterly deranged.
Never was a revenge on one poor servant so utterly comprehensive.
But the truth is, this subplot comes to dominate the whole play, and Chris
Porter’s formidable and mesmerising portrayal of Malvolio will ensure that
once again GB Theatre Company’s production is as memorable as it is hilariously
entertaining. Chris’s was a visual rendition worthy of Rowan Atkinson at
I have gone on record at previous Arundel Festival’s saying that GB has
reinvigorated Shakespeare’s works like no other modern touring company.
Everything in this production confirmed that view.
Shakespeare had the knack of timelessly repackaging a range of plot devices
to create one great comedy after another.
GB has the skill to discern the visual comedy and extract it from the
dialogue - ensuring that even those who considered Shakespeare a dusty
postscript in the literary archive are awakened to the enormous fun that
his writing contains.
David Davies is the company manager but also, as ever, brings enormous
energy and vitality to the whole proceedings.
In this great pursuit he is most ably supported by the likes of Oliver
Cudbill, Suzannah Hampton, Philip Scott-Wallace, Lucy
Wray, Mark Carlisle,
and Sioned Jones. Special praise for stage manager Martin
stepped so worthily into the role of Sir Andrew Aguecheek following illness
within the company.
The Duke and Duchess of Norfolk continue to keep the central flame of
the Arundel Festival burning bright by inviting this company to the Collector
Earl’s Gardens at the Castle. It is to be hoped they will return again
Review: Twelfth Night at Norwich Cathedral
by James Goffin, Eastern Daily Press
Shakespearean cross-dressing in the Cloisters
Outdoor theatre in England needs to be special and with
yesterday bringing in something of the climate of Twelfth Night, the GB
Theatre Company had something of a challenge.
Luckily the Cathedral Cloister are a magical setting for Shakespeare's
tale of shipwreck and sexual subterfuge and the performance mixed creative
physical theatre with music and high farce.
Suzannah Hampton impressed as Olivia, switching between
lamenting and lovestruck as she fell for the cross-dressing Viola (a disarmingly
boyish Lucy Wray).
Chris Porter delighted as the much-wronged Malvolio -
even in a slightly terrifying Borat-like costume - and David Davies and Joel
Sams added a uniformly slapstick note as the misbehaving Belch
Shakespeare in the Cloisters is becoming a favourite
fixture in Norwich's summer calender
Review: Romeo & Juliet at Norwich Cathedral
by Emma Lee, Eastern Daily Press
Under the direction of Norwich-born Neil Sheppeck, the Bard’s story of
the brawling Capulets and Montagues is taken back to basics – the set is
minimal, the emotions palpable and the sword-play thrilling.
Not long out of drama school, Lucy Wray plays Juliet. A star in the making,
her performance was wonderfully sparky – one of the most engaging portrayals
of the character, who can sometimes be a bit one-dimensional, I’ve seen.
Her Romeo – and the pair has a great chemistry – is played by Gabriel
Thomson. He grew up on screen playing Michael Harper in the long-running
BBC sitcom My Family and effortlessly makes the transition from screen
While the star-crossed lovers take centre stage, special
mention must be made of Joel Sams, who plays Mercutio
– no entendre is knowingly underplayed,
Sioned Jones as the scene-stealing Nurse and Oliver
Cudbill, who plays
Review: Romeo & Juliet at Reading School
by Liz Crosthwaite, Reading Chronicle
A balmy summer evening, seated on the grassy expanse
in front of Reading School... what could make it better? A performance
of Romeo and Juliet by GB Theatre Company, that's what.
It's a popular play, but somehow, even after many hours of studying it
at school, and seeing it performed at least five times, this production
brought the characters to life and made the language so much clearer and
easier to empathise with - partly because the actors, including Gabriel
Thomson as Romeo and Lucy Wray as Juliet, clearly knew the text inside
Juliet, in particular, was a joy to watch, with Lucy embodying the pouty,
still-immature young woman of Shakespeare's creation, younger and cheekier
than she is often played - a perfect counterpart to Gabriel's lovestruck,
confused and frustrated interpretation of Romeo.
With minimal staging and props and an outdoor setting, director Neil Sheppeck
used the open seating plan and stage to great effect, with actors entering
a scene from either side of the audience and down the main aisle. The positioning
of the stage underneath a towering tree with sweeping branches only added
to the romance and atmosphere. Joel Sams' Mercutio played Romeo's pal as
an energetic, slightly camp, and unstable-seeming man, while the heavy
sexual innuendo of Mercutio's banter and the Nurse's prattling was played
up - sometimes a little too far, perhaps! The addition of a Gregorian-style
chant from off-stage cast members during the tomb-scene was a wonderful
A tweaked traditional interpretation, with classic costumes and props,
let loose from the constraints of theatre walls, the play felt somehow
lighter, yet without losing the weight of the love, death, rage and loss
which course through it.
Review: Romeo & Juliet at Blaise Castle
by Dominic Harris, Bristol Evening Post
"THE finest place in England" – so wrote Jane
Austen about Blaise Castle in her novel, Northanger Abbey. Perhaps she
had been lucky enough to be in the audience for an outdoor production of
The estate's dairy garden amphitheatre hosted GB Theatre Company's Romeo
and Juliet, and it proved to be the perfect summer's evening.
It felt like we had been transported back to the 17th century for a provincial
re-telling of Shakespeare's famous tragedy, and the production played up
The actors used the entirety of the amphitheatre's space, appearing from
behind trees, walking through the audience to reach the stage and approaching
unsuspecting members of the crowd to share a bawdy joke.
Throughout, the audience were treated as extras – as party guests for
the Capulets' ball, as confidantes of Romeo as he poured forth his broken-hearted
frustrations – making us one and all citizens of Verona.
The performance itself was polished through and through, perfectly capturing
the angst of the young lovers and the depth of hatred between their two
families that gives the tale its foundations.
The lustful bawdiness of Romeo's young friends danced across the stage
ahead of the heartbroken melancholy of the tragic couple, and Gabriel
Thomson – from BBC's My Family – and Lucy Wray perfectly infused Romeo and Juliet
with the conflicting emotions at the centre of their woe.
The lusty, thrusting humour of the dazzling Mercutio
(Joel Sams) was tempered beautifully by the torn Benvolio (Oliver
and the strength of the ensemble cast set Blaise Castle alight with Shakespeare's
400-year-old words, giving them new life.
"The finest place in England"? On an night like that, who would
question it. 9/10
Review: Romeo & Juliet at Trinity College Dublin
by Daragh Reddin, Metro-Herald
“Things got off to a rollicking good start on Wednesday
night with a bawdy and brazen production of Romeo & Juliet performed
al fresco, under the aegis of Neil Sheppeck…”
“….a cracking, handsome cast acquitted themselves remarkably
well in what transpired to be a surprisingly feel good affair – mounting
body count notwithstanding.”
“Gabriel Thomson made for a suitably
earnest, conflicted Romeo and found a natural chemistry with Lucy
Wray’s defiant Juliet, while laughs came thick and fast courtesy
of Sioned Jones’s earthy, lumbering nurse and Joel
Sams’ swaggering Mercutio.”
“Little wonder the capacity crowd rose to its feet in
applause as the curtains fell…”
Review: Romeo & Juliet at Trinity College Dublin
by Claire Bradley, Dublin Culture
“A lovely addition was some gregorian-chant style hymns sung
off stage by the company not on stage during parts of the play. Some of the
actors also played some (presumably) Elizabethan music while the audience were
getting settled and again during the performance to good effect.”