• Fri. Apr 12th, 2024

Bedfest 2024 Review: Malvolio’s Fantasy

ByOlivia Laughton

Feb 3, 2024
Theatre Poster

Rating: 4 out of 5.

‘Malleable, malevolent and mad’, Malvolio’s Fantasy innovatively reconstructs Shakespeare’s
classic tale of love and confusion into a joyous yet thought-provoking narrative, written by
Zuza Soltykowska and Isabella Olsen-Barone.

Washed upon the shores of Illyria, the young Viola (Menna Morris) disguises her identity with
a fabulous moustache, joining the court of the melancholic yet serene Lady Olivia (Victoria
Ge). Bound by their tragedies, musical expressions, and curiously enough, feminine
appreciation of scented candles, they fall in love. Turning from Shakespeare’s traditional text,
there is no delay here in waiting for a heteronormative resolution to their desires as they
declare their love outright.

Orchestrating a plan against the constraints of class and gender, they arrange for Malvolio
(Grace Read) to swap places with Viola and win the Duke Orsino’s heart. The suave Orsino
falls for Malvolio’s loquacious charms, whilst in turn Malvolio’s insatiable desire for power
leads to satisfying resolutions of requited love, without Shakespeare’s seventeenth century’s
sexual taboos.

The complex and interwoven themes of gender, class and identity are brazenly interjected by
a hugely comedic and – well – drunk, Toby Belch (Alba McGowan). A thick Scots accent,
tartan hat and several alcoholic beverages spilt across the stage, his drunken farce caused
shrieks of laughter throughout the theatre. The fourth wall well and truly shattered, once he’d
caused enough chaos he sat among the audience, complaining about the speed of the set
changes! Other moments of laughter came in the promiscuous relations of a charmingly
baffled Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Lucien Ngai) and maid Carmen (Tatiana Kacmarska), as well
as through the running motifs of candles, moustaches and plenty of wordplay and wit.
As promoted on their Instagram (@malvoliosfantasy_bedfest), the ‘Outs’ of ‘heteronormativity’,
‘being forced to deny your dreams of dukedom’ and ‘yellow socks’ were well and truly
banished, in a wholesome and heart-warming production.

Musical, witty and charming, Malvolio’s Fantasy left the audience with an enduring sense of the beautiful nature of loving, and doing so with pride.

Image provided via Bedlam Theatre Press Release