Shakespeare’s whirldwind comedy Twelfy Night comes to Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre in April and May, directed by award-winning Jo Davies, making her Royal Exchange debut. With credits including Don Carlo, Kiss Me, Kate, The Marriage of Fagaro and Carousel, Jo Davies has worked as a director in London’s West End and on Broadway, on productions including musicals, plays and operas.

The comedy, which features gender, identity and love are its core will star Faith Omole, Kevin Harvey and Mina Anwar returning to the Exchange as Viola, Orsino and Maria, whilst Kate Kennedy takes on the role of Olivia and Anthony Calf is Malvolio and award-winning Manchester-based transgender artist and activist Kate O’Donnell makes her Royal Exchange debut in the role of Feste, the wise observer in this foolish, lovesick kingdom.

The play will also feature live music from the crucially acclaimed folk musician Kate Young and lap-tap guitarist Joe Gravil.  Kate Young is a Scottish musician and composer. She currently performs in the all-female fiddle-singers band Carthy, Hardy, Farrell and Young, and Moulettes. She has recently released her critically acclaimed debut album as Kate in the Kettle, Swimmings of the Head which encompasses an array of songs and tune sets – many of which combine different traditional music sources with self-penned works.

Kate explores the combination of voice with her fiddle-playing whilst applying knowledge of world traditions with her own compositions.

Washed up on the shores of Illyria after a ship-wreck, Viola hides her true identity by disguising herself as a man. Finding a job – and love – at the court of Duke Orsino, Viola becomes muddled in mistaken identities when her disguise begins to cause more problems than it solves.

The cast is completed by Aaron Anthony, Simon Armstrong, Harry Attwell, Daniel Francis-Swaby, Tarek Merchant and Jill Myers. The creative team includes Designer Leslie Travers, Lighting Designer Jack Knowles, Sound Designer Pete Malkin and Composer Alex Baranowski.

Twelfth Night is performed at The Royal Exchange Theatre from 13 April – 20 May 2017.

Royal Exchange Theatre image credit University of Salford Press Office/flickr under creative commons licence.