Twelfth Night was staged as a comedy, and it worked. It was eye-wipingly funny. John Lithgow was perfectly cast - he really only plays one character in everything he does, and he's very good at it, and he has a powerful stage presence. Apart from him the comic characters were played by women, including Siobhan Redmond as Maria the maid. When I was young there was a convention that women 'couldn't do comedy', and you know that wasn't that long ago. So I think making the funny female, and the male tragic is a good play on gender roles. Michael Billington in the Guardian didn't appreciate it though. Perhaps they hadn't got into their stride when he saw them. They made me laugh, over and over, and the aspects he says they didn't capture - Toby's cruelty, Andrew's desire to belong - seemed transparent last night. When I looked at my companions and the others in the theatre, they were laughing too. It's nice that the humour in Shakespeare is back again, when I was young it was all a bit forced and dutiful 'I know that's funny, it says so in the notes'.
I won't go through all the various interesting aspects of the play brought up by the casting, having the two male admirers of the twins played by actual twins brought out the parallels between Orsino and Antonio. Having Viola played by a man brought out - well, a bunch of stuff there's no need for me to plonk through, but I thought it enhanced the play quite a bit. I thought it universalised the tensions in the play.
There was a lot of music, not of a deep kind, Feste the Jester was a lounge singer with a piano, and the play's songs were all included.
I thought it was fun, funny, kept some of the sadness, gave you something to think about. Not mind-blowing, but very enjoyable from start to finish, passed in a flash.