A CLASSIC Shakespeare comedy is being transported to the upstairs-downstairs world of 1920s Lancashire.

The Octagon Theatre’s production of Twelfth Night features drunks in the kitchen, feisty maids, foolish aristocrats, irreverent comics, lovesick young men and beautiful ladies in love.

Rosie Jones will play Viola — a lady shipwrecked on foreign land who disguises herself as a young man to work for the Duke, Orsino — in the play which runs from tonight (Thursday, February 27) to Saturday, March 22.

Rosie, who performed in the Octagon’s productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, An Inspector Calls and Hobson’s Choice, is an avid fan of the Bard’s plays which continue to stand the test of time.

She said: “I love Shakespeare. I tend to do quite a lot of classical work. I just really enjoy the language.

“I think probably the strength of the narrative, the strength of the characters that Shakespeare writes — they’re so compelling and timeless.

“Twelfth Night is a love triangle and we love love stories. We like mistaken identity. As an audience, we love seeing this girl dressing up as a boy and finding herself in tricky situations.

“Viola, she finds herself in a particularly desperate situation, she is shipwrecked.

“She thinks her brother is dead and she doesn’t know where she is. For an actor, that’s a wonderful start.

“Then it’s how she manages to cope with that and get around that and find her way. She doesn’t give up.”

Many scholars believe William Shakespeare spent time in Lancashire, staying at Hoghton Tower in Preston and Knowsley Hall, Merseyside, during his teenage years and these regional links are the inspiration for the production.

It is directed by the Octagon’s artistic director, David Thacker, who has directed several acclaimed productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company — winning Olivier Awards for his celebrated production of Pericles — and who is known for accessible and dynamic Shakespeare productions with a contemporary and stylish approach.

Rosie said: “I think because David’s work is always so rooted in the text, in a way, the approach for the actors is still always about communicating and finding the truth through the language.
“It’s rooted in the words and finding the story and, because it’s the fourth time I’ve worked with David now, I sort of know what to expect really.

“Because it’s in the ‘20s, we are very much going for the Upstairs, Downstairs type of feel and I guess the music will really play a big part in that.

“We’re not going for flapper girls ‘20s or particularly jazz era ‘20s but it’s going to have a really nice feel of that.”

Also appearing in Twelfth Night are Natalie Grady, as Olivia, the Countess of Illyria, Christopher Villiers as Malvolio, the steward of Olivia's household, and Michael Shelford as Orsino, fresh from their roles in Hobson’s Choice.

Phone 01204 520661 or visit octagonbolton.co.uk for tickets.