Lloyd Evans Lloyd Evans

Captures the rapturous gaiety of the original: Globe’s Twelfth Night reviewed

Plus: Lily Allen comes through with the goods in a new horror-story play

One can imagine Shakespeare nodding appreciatively at Michelle Terry’s Olivia, pictured above.

The new Lily Allen vehicle opens in a spruced-up terrace in the East End. Allen plays a self-satisfied yuppie, Jenny, whose cynical husband has invited two ghastly friends over for a bitchy booze-up. At first sight this looks like a Hampstead comedy from the 1970s but it’s a horror story, and it has a huge black hole at its core.

A classic horror yarn should be driven by a single, powerful premise. In Ira Levin’s Deathtrap, a failing playwright has to bump off a talented rival to restore his fortunes. In Psycho, a bland motel is terrorised by a deranged and violent loner. Even Shakespeare dipped into the horror genre. In Hamlet, a vacillating prince is ordered to commit murder by his father’s ghost.

But this show lacks a compelling story-line and the writer, Danny Robins, makes up for it by adding sackloads of fear-inducing effects. It’s like sitting through a graduation piece by a sound engineer. Every scene starts with a piercing scream that almost makes your fillings fall out. And Jenny’s terraced house is over-burdened with freaky extras. A poltergeist stalks the rooms upstairs, opening and shutting windows. A baby-monitor in the nursery carries the wails of an infant into the kitchen. Foxes snarl and shriek in the neighbour’s garden. The peals of a summer storm rumble across the soundtrack.

Orsino is an angry sex stud who prowls the stage in cowboy boots like a bassist expelled from a supergroup

But even that isn’t enough. The characters are clumsy and excitable, and they keep dropping glasses or hurling things around the room. Every few minutes, a new sound effect smashes across your consciousness and makes you jump out of your seat. It never stops. Bang, crump, bawl, rumble, screech, howl, yelp, crash. The audience reacts to each of these shocks with a gasp of surprise and a collective chuckle of relief.

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