Mark Rylance and Stephen Fry make Globe transfer a hit

Nov 20, 2012

Rylance's glorious star turn in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and Richard III make for a sublime double bill

Simon Annand

What you need to know
Shakespeare's Globe theatre double bill - Twelfth Night and Richard III - has transferred to the Apollo Theatre in London's West End. The two all-male "original practices" productions are directed by Tim Carroll and designed by Jenny Tiramani.

The repertory double bill was first seen at the Globe over the summer. Shakespeare's romantic comedy Twelfth Night stars Mark Rylance in the role of Countess Olivia (he first played the role to critical acclaim in the Globe's 2002 production). Stephen Fry plays Olivia's pompous but besotted steward, Malvolio.

Shakespeare's well-known historical portrait of a serial-killing king Richard III also stars Rylance in the title role. Twelfth Night and Richard III run in repertory until 10 February 2013.

What the critics like
These two lovely productions are lifted to greatness by Mark Rylance's glorious star performances, says Charles Spencer in The Daily Telegraph. Rylance is in dazzling form delivering "virtuosic, fresh-minted performances" - from the psychotic fury of King Richard to the comic delight of Olivia. A "sublime" double bill.

Twelfth Night and Richard III achieve a "gloriously successful" West End transfer, says Paul Taylor in The Independent. That chameleon "protean genius" Rylance is a marvel of fluttery and brilliantly timed panic in Twelfth Night, while Fry gives an "intelligently pondered, generous" performance. The company is "superb in both plays".

Carroll's very good all-male production captures the labyrinthine strangeness of Shakespeare's comedy Twelfth Night, says Michael Billington in The Guardian. Fry "acquits himself extremely well" as Malvolio and Rylance is "hilarious" as Olivia. Richard III received "equal rapture".

What they don't like
Stephen Fry is competent enough as Malvolio in Twelfth Night, says Libby Purves in The Times. But he seems too keen to be liked to show us why Malvolio is an unpopular character. There is well-timed comedy in his grandiose soliloquy, but "he does rather milk it".

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I'm surprised Stephen Fry is allowed on stage after walking out of a West End show many years ago, leaving the compny in the lurch, and unemployed. What an idiot.