Preview: Twelfth Night, BATS, Manor Gardens, Old Town Bexhill, July 27 and 28, 7.30pm. £10 (£7 under 18s).
FORTY years since performing their first open-air Shakespeare production in the town, BATS took on the classic tale of girl/boy confusion, love and mirth in ‘Twelfth Night’ this week.
Just as evening sun finally shone down on the beautiful Manor Gardens setting, so BATS stalwart Eric Stevens (who had appeared in that first 1972 play) this year tackled duped and maligned Malvolio alongside Peter Bradbury’s musical fool Feste and Jo-Jo Turnbull’s confident and cunning servant Maria who attempts to keep order among many merry men.
Cross-dressing and copious drink easily confuse Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek, whose respective parts were gloriously depicted by Anthony Lusted and Lewis Ikin swashing and sloshing around the stage.
Shipwrecked Olivia (Hannah Attfield) disguised as male servant Cesario, alongside Viola (Saskia Burke), who wrongly mourns the death of her brother and falls in love with Cesario, were maturely mastered and delicately portrayed by the talented duo.
There was a predominance of younger cast members, but with strong support by familiar faces, proving that Shakespeare continues to inspire and provide acting talent in the town who continue to uphold the status of BATS annual tradition.
Despite a few minor glitches the good pace and wonderful costumes should have made Director Anne Hughes proud of her efforts.
Those treading BATS’ open-air stage at a young age on the strength of this display ensure the baton could well be carried for another 40 years.
There are performances tonight and tomorrow evening at 7.30pm Tickets are £10 or £7 for under 18s, and available on the door or from Destination in Sackville Road, Bexhill.