Twelfth Night delivered solo for the Brighton Fringe

A solo Twelfth Night will offer 60 minutes, 12 characters, 7,500 words and one actress for the Brighton Fringe.

Orla Sanders
Orla Sanders

Orla Sanders is promising a fast-paced comedy with a love triangle, a case of mistaken identity and a pair of yellow stockings – all with Orla as the sole performer.

“Orsino is in love with Olivia, who is in love with Cesario, who is really Viola, who is in love with Orsino. Things get really complicated when Viola’s identical twin brother Sebastian arrives and falls in love with Olivia. There’s a lot of love and a lot of confusion but it all gets straightened out in the end… hopefully!”

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It will be at the Electric Arcade, Madeira Drive, Lwr Promenade, Brighton, BN2 1TB (Under the Zip Wire) from July 7-11 at 6.15pm – a chance to see in person a show which she first performed on Facebook Live during the first lockdown in April last year to raise money for personal protective equipment for Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals where her sister Cliona works as a Covid nurse.

“When the pandemic first hit and we were first put into lockdown, everybody was really scared and worried about everything. My sister told me that she was going to be working on a Covid ward and we were very worried because we knew so little about Covid and now a member of your family is going into the lion’s den and putting her life on the line to save people.

“I am an actor. I felt she was doing something so impressive and doing so much and I was just sitting at home. I was thinking ‘What can I do?’ I am a runner. I was out on a run with my husband and I was thinking I really had to do something. I can’t just sit at home and stress. I wanted to contribute. Cliona had talked to me about the fact that they were so low on PPE and I was thinking ‘Oh my God! They definitely need PPE! ’ So I was thinking ‘What can I actually do?’ I thought I could perform something to raise money for PPE but it had to be something that I could perform by myself from home in my house. Lots of people were doing plays and running marathons and asking for support. I thought I had to try to do something really impressive if I was going to be asking people for money at a time when people were worried about money and people were being furloughed.

“And I have always loved Shakespeare. Shakespeare is a real challenge and I had worked really hard on Shakespeare. Twelfth Night has always been my favourite play. It is really hilarious. It is one of the funniest plays I have ever seen. I was thinking that everyone was so stressed that they needed something that they can just laugh at while they are sitting on their couches, something that would enable them to forget all about the pandemic for 60 minutes.”

And so the Facebook Live Twelfth Night happened… and now, this is the first time Orla is going back to it, this time for a live audience.

And that in itself requires an adjustment: “When I was filming it to a camera, it was just the top half of your body, just your shoulders and your face. The bottom half of your body was non-existent and the movement had to be very small because everything is enlarged on camera.

“But on stage you have to use your whole body and you have got a much bigger space to fill. You need to take on the full physicality of the characters… and I think that that actually makes it funnier!”