Christmas is nearly upon us and December’s Picture of the Month, taken by Tom and Mig Holte, features the Night of Revels scene from the RSC’s 1979 production of Twelfth Night; Shakespeare’s bittersweet comedy, directed by Terry Hands and designed by John Napier. Twelfth Night on 6th January was traditionally the Feast of Fools, when masters and servants swapped roles, and it is also the Feast of Epiphany. This production opened with a chilly wintry sparse setting and a few bare trees. Music is a crucial part of Twelfth Night; it opens and closes the play and the act of listening to music is a central theme. Feste, the fool, played by Geoffrey Hutchings, is shown centre stage here singing to Sir Toby Belch, Maria and Sir Andrew Aguecheek. He was on stage throughout this production; “a turnip-faced figure in faded patchwork” (Michel Billington, The Guardian), singing sad songs and making bitter humorous remarks.
What is love ? ‘Tis not hereafter,
Present mirth has present laughter,
What’s to come is still unsure,
In delay there lies no plenty.
Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty,
Youth’s a stuff will not endure.
(Act 2 Scene 3)