This sumptuous production of Twelfth Night featured Adrian Edmondson as the hapless Malvolio and Kara Tointon as his love interest Olivia.

three actors standing around a fountain in funny poses
Fabia (Sarah Twomey), Malvolio (Adrian Edmondson), Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Michael Cochrane in fountain) and Sir Toby Belch (John Hodgkinson) in Twelfth Night, 2017, Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
Photo by Manuel Harlan © RSC Browse and license our images


Director Christopher Luscombe chose a late Victorian setting for his visually rich production which appealed to both the critics and the audience. Natasha Tripney described it as "lavish and uplifting" and "an incredibly handsome production", The Stage, 30 November 2017. Simon Higlett's splendid set designs included railway stations, opulent hothouses, wood-panelled halls as well gardens complete with fountains and statuary. Nigel Hess composed some lively tunes with a hint of Gilbert and Sullivan to enhance the gaiety.


Taking inspiration from Queen Victoria's relationship with her Indian attendant Abdul Karim, Viola (Dinita Gohil) and Sebastian (Esh Alladi) were Indian twins marooned in 1890s England while Beruce Khan's Feste was an Indian retainer in Olivia's (Kara Tointon) household.


In another piece of inspired casting, Adrian Edmondson made his RSC debut playing Malvolio. He explained his approach to the role in an interview with Alex Wood: "I'm probably closer to Malvolio than I am to Vyvyan [his character in the BBC comedy series 'The Young Ones']. I don't see Malvolio as an iconic role. He's just a person who says some things. He's a character and I've made my sense of him, creating a backstory from the text. He's not particularly funny either. People laugh at him rather than because of him, and he's horrible. He's a nasty man, the butt of the joke rather than the joke maker. But there has to be a reason why, and something must have happened to him"  WhatsOnStage, 30 October 2017. Edmondson was praised for his comic timing and bringing pathos to the role.


Designer Simon Higlett was reunited with director Christopher Luscombe, both having worked on our previous productions of Love's Labour's Lost and Love's Labour's Won (Much Ado About Nothing). The sets for Twelfth Night were partly inspired by Wightwick Manor, a Victorian manor house near Wolverhampton in the West Midlands, built in 1887 for Samuel Theodore Mander.

In the following gallery you can see some of Simon Higlett's costume sketches, the costumes being brought to life in our workshop and photos of the sets.


You can learn more about the play and view more footage of this production by visiting our Shakespeare Learning Zone on Twelfth Night.

A woman in black in a garden, surrounded by autumn leaves
Making the trailer for Twelfth Night, filmed at Wightwick Manor
Photo by Andrew Fox © RSC Browse and license our images
Proud woman in black Victorian dress stands in grounds of manor house waited on by steward who pours tea servant



Royal Shakespeare Theatre


Esh Alladi - Sebastian

Nicholas Bishop - Orsino

Tom Byrne - Valentine

Sally Cheng - Kitchen Maid

Michael Cochrane - Sir Andrew Aguecheek

Adrian Edmondson - Malvolio

James Gant - Police Inspector/Manservant/Footman

Dinita Gohil - Viola

John Hodgkinson - Sir Toby Belch

Beruce Khan - Feste

Verity Kirk - Parlour Maid

Luke Latchman - Curio

Vivien Parry - Maria

Joseph Prowen - Footman/Police Officer/Station Porter

Giles Taylor - Antonio

Kara Tointon - Olivia

Sarah Twomey - Fabia

Jamie Tyler - Sea Captain/Police Officer/Station Master



Director - Christopher Luscombe

Designer - Simon Higlett

Lighting Designer - Tim Mitchell

Sound Designer - Jeremy Dunn

Music - Nigel Hess

Fights - Kev McCurdy


The RSC's archive is held at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. You can visit the Library and Archives there to look at production related information, including photos, videos of shows and stage management documents:

Shakespeare Centre Library and Archive homepage

You can search the RSC catalogue here: 

RSC performance database

Twelfth Night was generously supported by the Twelfth Night Syndicate

The RSC Acting Companies are generously supported by The Gatsby Charitable Foundation and The Kovner Foundation

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