It's rare that I go, as I'm impatient and like to see new productions as soon as they open but when the opportunity arose to see Twelfth Night with Mark Rylance and Stephen Fry in the West End, towards the end of the run, I figured the last performance was the one to go for.
Rather more unusually, I hadn't seen the production before so it was impossible to tell if there were any 'last night' additions or not but everyone certainly seemed to be on cracking form indeed Stephen Fry looked like he was cracking up with laughter at one point.
I'm not going to 'review' the show as such, feels a little late for that, instead I just want to mention a few stand outs. The aforementioned Fry was as 'Fry' with his Malvolio as you'd expect, breaking through the fourth wall on occasion when an audience response was too audible to resist - I'd have been disappointed with anything less.
And, Johnny Flynn gave the most gentle and sympathetic performance of Viola/Cesario I've seen. His quietly awkward and increasingly scared Caesario worked beautifully alongside the bigger comic performances. I normally find Viola is played a bit too precocious and shrill for my liking.
The reluctant fight Cesario has with Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Roger Lloyd Pack) is a scene which will stay with me for a long, long time. I can only imagine why Johnny looked closed to tears at the curtain call, don't think I've ever seen anyone look quite so emotional at the end of a comedy.
And then there was Stephen Fry's speech. He isn't in Richard III which the company is performing for the last time today. In an attempt at historical accuracy, he joked, it would be performed in the Leicester Square car park. He won't be there to see the performance either as he'll be across London presenting the BAFTA's 'because I'm a whore, but with the difference that I do kiss everyone'.
In thanking all those involved he also thanked the plays author make a point to turn to Rylance, a Shakespeare authorship sceptic, and say 'William Shakespeare from Stratford Upon Avon, Mark' which naturally made everyone laugh.
He also said the success of Twelfth Night proved that Shakespeare and old plays are as pertinent today as when they were written.
And with that, no more Twelfth Night. Great production and great night.
Direct connection is the lovely Sam Barnett who plays Sebastian in this, he's worked with Mr W twice before in His Dark Materials at the National and in the film Bright Star.