Three evenings last week saw PGW’s House play Twelfth Night play to a packed-out Farrer Theatre. A rendition of Shakespeare’s classic, the play is set in the early 1800s, an era described as ‘Jane Austen meets Bridgerton’ by directors Angus Graham-Campbell and Katya Allott.

Complete with complex love triangles, practical jokes and utter chaos, the night was filled with entertainment. The play follows Viola (Jack F), Olivia (Julian OT), Feste (Wilf H), Malvolio (George Z W), Duke Orsino (Leonardo O’S), Sir Toby Belch (Seb H), Maria Prentis and Williams (Noel C and Jeremy A, respectively), Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Ned H-V), Sebastian (Hugh H) and Antonio (Tom M), with other boys providing supportive acting roles.  

The play opens with Duke Orsino descending from the steps of the incredible Italianate set. The excitement of the audience was palpable as the Mediterranean Principality of Illyria came to life in Eton, complete with gardeners, fishermen and even a fountain. It resulted in a spontaneous round of applause for set designers and carpenters Matthew Evered and Simon Barnes.

We were introduced to Viola, a young woman who finds herself swept onto the island of Illyria. Believing that her twin brother Sebastian has been drowned in the shipwreck, she is eager to find work. A sea captain suggests she may be able to find work in the house of Lady Olivia but, unfortunately for Viola, she refuses to speak to any strangers. Viola overcomes this hurdle by re-identifying herself as a man named Cesario and strikes gold, gaining employment in the house of Duke Orsino.

Cesario quickly earns Duke Orsino’s favour and finds him/herself running many of Orsino’s errands, one of which includes sending Orsino’s passionate love letters to Lady Olivia. A task which she finds difficult to do as she realises she is falling for Orsino. Unfortunately for Orsino, Olivia ends up falling in love with Viola, posing as Cesario.

With an already chaotic situation, the plot thickens when it is revealed that Viola’s twin brother has in fact survived the shipwreck and found himself washed up on the shores of Illyria! What follows is a highly entertaining performance with a powerful exploration of the unintended consequences of unrequited love.

A wonderful example of Eton theatre, credit must go to all those involved for putting on such a great show.

Credit: Earthy Photography