I, Malvolio @ Traverse

Flashes of genius (and arse)

Feature by Lizzie Stewart | 23 Aug 2011
  • I, Malvolio @ Traverse

From the flies circling his soiled turkey-cock suit, through his hectoring tone, and all the way down to his leopard-print thong and abuse of an audience member's shiny blue shoes, Tim Crouch’s Malvolio is marvellously foul.

The puritan custodian of law and order who must be removed in order for the hi-jinks of Twelfth Night to play out in their full madness; a character who, in this production, sees the decline of civilisation, the symptoms of modern malaise, in a piece of paper nobody bothers to find a bin for; Malvolio may well sound like the last Shakespeare character one might most wish to spend an hour with. However, consummate professional and occasional mooner, Crouch, gives him centre stage to highly comic, and provocative, effect.

Malvolio is not only hilariously horrible but, surrounded on three sides by a well-lit audience, united in a guilty desire to ‘laugh at the funny man’ and capable of catching one another’s eyes or smirks, at our mercy as we are at his. While his interaction with the spectators is unnerving in itself, our responses to one another reveal just how easy it is for complicity to turn into crowd mentality, and how thin the line can be between one person’s entertainment and another’s torment.

Funny, grotesque, playing with the borders between order and chaos, participation and control, performance and reality, this is the Shakespeare that I didn’t find out about until University. Whether its metatheatre, Malvolio, or ageing male arse you are into, I, Malvolio is quite something.

Until 28 August, Various Times,

Traverse Theatre