Entertainment & Arts

Stephen Fry praised for return to West End stage

Stephen Fry as Malvolio in Twelfth Night at Shakespeare's Globe
Image caption Stephen Fry as Malvolio in Twelfth Night at Shakespeare's Globe

Stephen Fry has made his official return to the West End stage as Malvolio in an all-male production of Twelfth Night.

Critics praised Fry's "unexpectedly gentle" performance in Shakespeare's comedy.

It is Fry's first major stage role for 17 years. In 1995, Fry walked out during a West End run of Simon Gray's Cell Mates claiming stage fright.

He later blamed his departure on bipolar disorder.

Twelfth Night runs alongside Richard III at the Apollo Theatre until February.

Both plays started out at Shakespeare's Globe, but critics were not invited to review Fry's performance in Twelfth Night until its West End transfer.

"It's hardly surprising that so much of the coverage has been focused on him - a disproportion that increased when it was decided that there would be no official reviewing of the production's short recent run at the Globe," noted Paul Taylor in The Independent.

"The irony is that Fry's performance - intelligently pondered, generous to the other actors, and almost studiedly not a 'star turn' by a celebrity guest artiste - is exactly the opposite in tendency. It restores balance to a play in which Malvolio's scenes can hog the limelight."

In The Guardian, Michael Billington observed: "The big draw is Stephen Fry's Malvolio, and he acquits himself extremely well. He is suitably grave, dignified and overbearing."

Meanwhile, Alexandra Coghlan from The Arts Desk said: "Fry's Malvolio is unexpectedly gentle, a supporting rather than scene-stealing comedic turn that seeks out the humanity in this well-intentioned pedant."

Mark Rylance takes on the title role in Richard III and reprises the role of Olivia that he played in the Globe's 2002 production of Twelfth Night.

Both productions are directed by Tim Carroll.

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