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Malachites take over Geffrye Museum for Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in Shoreditch

PUBLISHED: 12:00 20 June 2015

Rooted in Shakespeare... Malachite players Claire-Monique Martin as Feste’s girl in Twelfth Night and Stephen Connery-Brown as Malvolio [photos: Patrick Dodds]

Rooted in Shakespeare... Malachite players Claire-Monique Martin as Feste’s girl in Twelfth Night and Stephen Connery-Brown as Malvolio [photos: Patrick Dodds]

Patrick Dodds

A troupe of actors are taking over the gardens of east London’s famous Geffrye Museum for three nights to stage a play written for the Twelfth Night of Christmas by an up-and-coming dramatist living in area for a while.

Claire-Monique Martin as Feste’s girl in Twelfth Night at the Geffrye Museum, inspired by an Elizabethan playwright [inset] with a taste for dramaClaire-Monique Martin as Feste’s girl in Twelfth Night at the Geffrye Museum, inspired by an Elizabethan playwright [inset] with a taste for drama

The talented playwright was a struggling actor himself who came up from the provinces to make his fortune knocking off the odd play here and there, and a few sonnets thown in, back in Elizabethan times.

It was an ambitious Will Shakespeare who wrote 19 of his plays while living in his garret in Shoreditch and even performing his latest work at the local Curtain Theatre to mark the end of the Christmas season—with the obvious title Twelfth Night.

Now the Malachites are perfoming the play on the front lawn of the Geffrye Museum next month as a tribute to the local lad who made good.

Their mission is to reconnect The Bard with Shoreditch in the public consciousness, which includes staging works he wrote when he lived in the parish between 1592 and 1599.

They call this body of work The Shoreditch 19—penned or quilled while Shakespeare rented in Bishopsgate and worked for James Burbage, proprietor of The Curtain Theatre in what is now Curtain Road and the original Theatre playhouse in New Inn Yard nearby.

The play, written to mark the end of the Christmas season, was an overnight Elizabethan hit.

It is the story of Viola and her twin brother Sebastian shipwrecked off the coast of Illyria in the Adriatic, each believing the other drowned.

Viola, thinking she’s now alone in a wicked world, disguises herself as a boy for protection, using the name ‘Cesario’, and soon enters the service of the Duke Orsino. The aristocratic Orsino sends ‘Cesario’ to woo the Lady Olivia on his behalf—as you do if you’re a duke. But Olivia falls for ‘Cesario’ who she thinks is really a sweet young boy.

Meanwhile, Viola or ‘Cesario’ falls in love with the Duke. It gets complicated, especially when her ‘lost’ brother Sebastian turns up to add to the plot. Further confusion follows about identity—but we won’t give away the ending. Enjoy.

Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, by The Malachites on three nights at the Geffrye Museum, 136 Kingsland Road, July 2-4, starts 7.30pm, gates open 6.46pm for picnics. Tickets £12 (concessions £10). Hoxton Overground is directly behind the museum, Old Street Underground is 10 minutes’ walk.

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