An actor prepares

An actor prepares

Actor Natalie Radmall Quirke, who plays Olivia in Twelfth Night, reveals all from the rehearsal room.

Outside the Abbey rehearsal room actors are eating Mars bars and waiting for the last call of the day. It is the beginning of week three.

SOPHIE: My friend said he went to a Twelfth Night and that it was stupid because the twins didn’t look alike.

ELAINE: Oh dear.

CONOR: Wayne said people only talk about whether or not the twins look alike if the production is really boring.

SOPHIE: Oh well that’s alright then.

* * *

Orsino prows his Xanadu, steadily grinding out death metal proofs of his passion for Olivia – a veil in a vault, locked from the inside. Cesario is a resurrected fabrication concealing a grief too real to reveal, who will turn Olivia into a suitor, Orsino into a groom and hermself into a Viola who has seen too much to ever recover her pre-Cesario self.

Capricious Sebastian walks away from the Rodrigo he invented, only to find Antonio the ardent pirate still following him. Valerie arrests Antonio for love of Orsino, a devotion told daily in taps on a tambourine.

Toby drowns his pain and position in whiskey bought by Andrew, a credible pawn and battered casualty in a plot designed by Maria to attain her sodden surety (with a willing bit of Fabian on the side).

Feste and Malvolio square up, one a post-traumatic stress of meta-theatrical rubber chicken, the other a jaundiced, puritanical sex pest – who will be revenged.

* * *

Rehearsals. Most days we begin with an hour of voice with Andrea Ainsworth, followed by movement with Sue Mythen. We speak Shakespeare, e. e. cummings, Joyce Carol Oates, Paul Durcan, and then we find leopards in our spines and lift each other off the floor. Wayne Jordan directs and tells allegorical stories from his life, which makes us tell allegorical stories from our lives; he conducts and listens and weaves what you offer him into the mesh (mesh) we’re making of the play. Donna and Tara and Stephen make running everything look easy, Emma and Ciaran make making everything look good look easy, Tom makes brand new music with Ger, Alex and 25 different instruments.

Our photo-shoot the other day for marketing and publicity involved a little gender-bending and a lot of jewellery; Conor Madden in a pair of gold leggings, Barry O’Connor in a crown and Sophie Robinson in really very little most of the time; a ménage à cinq on an unsuspecting mattress and the biggest sword you’ve ever seen.

I’ve must bite my finger typing tongue not to give too much away about the all the sex and kissing; morphsuits, suits of armour, binge drinking, passion, hysteria and violence – but I can tell you that no, the twins don’t look alike.

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