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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 6 May, 2003, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Twelfth Night
Newsnight Review discussed Channel 4's new film of Twelfth Night.



(Edited highlights of the panel's review produced from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight Review.)

BONNIE GREER:
It's beautifully spoken, it's very well played. But, television's very cruel medium. What you have to do on television is tell people where the thing is happening, who's who and what's going on. I know this play very well. If I didn't, I wouldn't have known what was happening. For instance, the two actors are supposed to be twins, they don't like twins. So, you know you sit there and it's crude things like that that happen. You have to place this for an audience who don't know this play. That is what they are trying to do, but it doesn't work.

MARK LAWSON:
Michael Gove I'm surprised they chose this. Once you get to Twelfth Night there is not contemporary equipment for being cross-gartered or boys going around pretending to be women, so it's hard to update?

MICHAEL GOVE:
The cross-gartered thing is done by having Malvolio wearing a lurid kilt, which makes his attempts to be a seducer and lover even more ludicrous! There are certain difficulties if you are not familiar with the play in grappling with it. As you hint, Mark, Shakespeare's comedies are the most difficult of his plays to translate to the 21st century. Having said that, anyone who has a nodding familiarity with the play will enjoy it. A teenage audience will enjoy some of the performances in it. I think the other thing is that for people who are familiar with the play, some of the ingenuity with which certain of the scenes are constructed is striking and admirable.

MARK LAWSON:
Paul Morley, Baz Luhrmann kept the words and changed the pictures. Here, they've kept the words and changed the pictures, was that the right decision?

PAUL MORLEY:
I don't think they've changed the pictures enough. I enjoyed it and it's successful and the music helps a lot. It was a wonderful opportunity to create this topsy turvy world in a more radical way than they did. Elyria is suggesting that the land is television and they have a chance to do that. They didn't do that enough. It stopped just at the level of being schools television but with great radical potential. I did enjoy it very much.

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