National Theatre gives Shakespeare a lesbian twist

Nick Duffy February 27, 2017
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Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night has been given a lesbian twist thanks to a new National Theatre production.

Simon Godwin’s production of the Shakespeare comedy recently opened at the National Theatre, with a cast including Episodes star Tamsin Greig.

Greig takes on the role of the usually-male puritanical steward Malvolio, who is tricked into believing his boss is in love with him.

However, in Godwin’s production the character is gender-flipped as Malvolia – a change that brings a distinct lesbian element to the 415-year-old story.

Speaking to the Evening Standard, Greig praised the fluid nature of gender in theatre, adding that now “there is no part that a woman can’t do”.

She said: “I think the way Simon has directed it, he has really opened the conversation about the fluidity of identity.

“We don’t define ourselves nowadays — possibly always, but the conversation is hot now — within recognised boundaries anymore.

“Because it is a hot conversation you have to be careful about how you participate in it, and not just participate in it for its own sake.”

A string of recent Shakespeare adaptations have embraced the gender-fluidity that was at the heart of traditional Shakespeare productions.

A Game of Thrones star recently voiced ‘Romeo and Jude’, while Queer as Folk showrunner Russell T Davies altered Midsummer Night’s Dream to incorporate a lesbian kiss.

Davies explained: “I wanted to have a man with a man, a man who was dressed as a woman with a man, and a woman with a woman because it’s 2016, so that’s the world now.”

More: Gay, lesbian, Theatre

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