AT university we read 23 Shakespeare plays in second year and this piece, a romantic comedy with more than its fair share of twists, was one of my least favourites.
While I still think its 15 minutes too long and the drunken antics of Sir Toby Belch and his lily livered chump of a sidekick Sir Andrew Aguecheek are given too much stage time, I now count myself among the converted, after watching this thoroughly entertaining production.
There's a warmth and a magic to this at times idiotic, fun filled tale and the comic timing of the cast, in particular Anthony Calf as Olivia's pedantic and puritanical servant Malvolio is second to none. You may know Calf from his appearances in the TV cop show New Tricks, but this actor proves he has plenty of tricks of his own when it comes to bringing this ridiculous albeit strangely lovable character to life.
You feel for the poor soul when he's pranked into believing a woman of noble breeding - no spoilers here - is in love with him. The elegant and statuesque Kate Kennedy was born to playhis employer, Olivia. Her comic timing is similarly brilliant, especially when her character's affections take an unexpected turn. Budding actors learning comedy take note.
Its a staple of Shakespeare's comedies that all is not always what it seems. Take the character Viola, who disguises herself as a young man in a bid to eventually woo the Duke, Orsino. Actress Faith Omole is a new name to me. However, performances like this makes me think a glittering future awaits her. She also has a fabulously pure singing voice.
My advice is snap up tickets for this as soon as you can - I predict brisk business for the RETbox office over the coming months.
* Until May 20. The box office is on 0161 833 9833. Star rating - ****