Twelfth Night, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds<br></br> Night Must Fall, Theatre Cymru, Clwyd

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

With scarcely a garish clown face in sight, and Malvolio's cross-gartered yellow stockings almost tasteful, Brown's emphasis on the play's gentle melancholy allows the comedy of the sub-plot to emerge with unforced gaiety.

Antony Byrne makes much of the starchy steward turned grinning, fawning wooer of Olivia. As haughty, vampish Olivia, Susie Trayling might have found a more challenging match in Charles Abomeli's Duke Orsino than with Daniel Crossley's Sebastian. Abomeli conveys emotional weight in his unrequited passion while sweet Sebastian still seems wet behind the ears. Hattie Morahan as his twin, Viola, and Mia Soteriou as Maria stand out in a well-defined cast.

The choice of Emlyn Williams's creaky old thriller Night Must Fall, in the Theatre Cymru's Emlyn Williams studio, a month or so before the centenary of the playwright's birth, must have made sense to director Terry Hands. But those who remember the 1937 film version with Robert Montgomery, a classic of psychological suspense, might be surprised to find this staging a good deal less taut.

Williams's 1934 play, based on the Fox murder case (son sets fire to invalid mother for the insurance), hasn't worn well and it's not helped by lacklustre acting and direction. The production never recovers from its wearisome opening. The arrival of bright-eyed Danny (Lee Haven-Jones) brightens an otherwise leaden evening as he worms his way into the affections of m'lady, crotchety Mrs Bramson (Dilys Laye, well known from Carry On films).

'Twelfth Night' to Saturday 22 (0113-213 7700). 'Night Must Fall' touring to Theatr Gwynedd, Bangor (Friday, Saturday); Sherman Theatre, Cardiff (27 to 29 Oct); Torch Theatre, Milford Haven (31 Oct to 2 Nov); Theatr Hafren, Newtown (7-8 Nov) and Aberystwyth Arts Centre (10-12 Nov)