I, Malvolio: If laughter be the food of clowns– play on!
I recently saw I, Malvolio at the New Victory theatre, and I think you should too.
this is its last weekend to run. (Here’s where you can buy tickets)
It’s a great and rigorous deconstruction of the character Malvolio from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Malvolio in this production is kind of a bouffon character– a twisted wretch, a shade of his dignified self, and through the course of the show we see how he got to where he is now.
The main event of the play is “I shall be revenged upon the whole lot of you.” In this sense, it could be called Malvolio’s revenge. As part of his revenge, Malvolio swears revenge on the lot of us, berates us repeatedly for being venal, threatens to hang himself, and even leaves the theatre a couple of times.
Tim Crouch, the actor and performer is really great in it. He’s got a great look, and by the end (when he transforms himself back to the dignified Malvolio at the start of the original Twelfth Night, we are completely taken in.
I loved the show, and as a former Malvolio, I know a lot of whence he speaks. (He has a couple of other shows about misunderstood Shakespearean characters (Caliban, Banquo, Peaseblossom) I don’t know if he plans it, but Shylock should be up on that list as well.
My only complaint would be that I would have liked to have seen Malvolio run a little more wild. Even in these moments where he is professing his revenge, or threatening to kill himself, he is a little too reserved for my taste. (He’s not particularly reserved, and perhaps as a theatre play it’s daring and fine. But as a clown play, I want more, more, more.)
Tim’s training (according to his bio) is primarily in Shakespeare and acting, and I think a couple of private coaching sessions with The Red Bastard or with the Ten Directions people (of the wonderful Bouffon Glass Menajorie) would not go amiss. That would bring this play from an 8 to a 10 for me.
Overall, this is a great one man show, and I’d love to see his other shows. He’s also written some plays for adults, including one in which he uses a different actor each time (and his partner has never seen the play before that night) Some brave and fine work, and I am hoping to see more of his work at some other time.
See a promo video: