If Music be the Food of Love

“If Music be the Food of Love play on” says Orsino at the beginning of Twelfe Night. In this high-quality all male production starring Mark Rylance,  music is the motif of the play. The wonderful music and musical arrangements by Claire Van Kampen play intermittently, with impressive ensemble singing and solos by Feste (Peter Hamilton Dyer).  The voice and speech of all the cast blends in rhythmically and melodiously.  Rarely have I witnessed such a funny, satisfying, finely tuned rhythmic theatre production.  Beckett, perhaps, would have stood and cheered.  We are to thank the voice coach, James Oxley for this.  Transposing musical rhythm and tone into speech is wonderful and in this Shakespeare all male production, the story has such clarity and humour, that at times it felt as though I were watching and listening to a Laurel and Hardy sketch.
As well as having a good laugh, singing is great for the voice and the spirits. When people approach me because they feel they can’t sing, we usually start off with voice release, humming, and then sounds to notes.
Actors are particularly wary of being overly big with the pitch variations in their speech on camera. In order to find your own pitch and rhythm you have at first to let go.  Eventually it will come to you/you will find it.  Witness the rhythmic music of great screen actors like Dustin Hoffman, Katherine Hepburn, Marlon Brando and Daniel Craig.  Their distinctive voice beats through the characters they play.
I’ve been a fan of  Mark Rylance since I saw him play Benedict in Much Ado About Nothing.  I didn’t know at the time, but he chose to use a Belfast accent.  I thought it had been a touch of brilliance on the part of the casting director to cast someone in the role of Benedict from Belfast.  He has an innate gift for speech and voice.  His Maria in Twelfth Night gives us an entirely different picture of a woman of that time and status.  As the play was written for Elizabeth 1st and would have been an all male cast anyway, it is probably the picture intended.

Eliabeth 1st

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