Gareth Thomas in The Edinburgh News

This was in the Edinburgh News on 27th Jan 2000.

Blake treads the board

BY now, Gareth Thomas must be fed up with the references to Blake's 7 which dog his every move in theatreland.

The Royal Shakespeare Company veteran - Blake in the cult 70s sci-fi TV series - brings a portly authority to the stage of the Brunton Theatre as Sir Toby Belch in the Bard's Twelfth Night from tomorrow night.

Now based in the Borders, Thomas was treading the boards most recently in Stellar Quines' The Clearing and he hasn't shouldered a blaster for years.

The Brunton production transplants the play's action from the fairytale land of Illyria to the cut-throat world of the modern fashion business.

That allows for what Brunton artistic director David Mark Thomson calls "a visual feast" when it comes to the staging - with rooftop terraces, swimming pools and swanky office furniture providing the characters" playground.

The shift in setting means Olivia gets cast as the heiress of a haute couture fashion firm, while Belch becomes one of the board of directors.

It may raise the hackles of Shakespeare purists, but then William himself appropriated the bones of Twelfth Night from a 16th century Italian play called Gl'ingannati.

Whether the original production included any time travelling Blake's 7 stars is, unfortunately, not recorded.

Twelfth Night, Brunton Theatre, tomorrow-Saturday February 12. Call box office on 0131-665 2240 for ticket details.

Ben Atherton

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Last updated on 29th of January 2000.