This is not generally considered a problem play, but I always have a problem with it. The peoblem is Malvolio, or in this production Malvolia.
Twelfth night would be a lovely comedy, with the usual happy ending where everyone gets married, if it were not for Malvolio(a). In this National Thestre production Tamsin Greig does a wonderful job with the role. She is particularly funny in the yellow stocking and cross garters, especially when she does a partial strip tease down the big staircase. But then it all turns nasty, when she is imprisoned and humiliated. It might have started as a joke, but it soon passes into a darker and nastier moment. Psychological torture, approaching sadism becomes the order of the day. Is it any wonder she vows vengeance on the pack of them when she is finally freed? Some productions manage a lighter tone, making it more a joke. But most allow the nastiness to show through, as this National Theatre production does.
In fact, the role of Malvolia dominates the play, even though it is only a small section. The rest of the production and the cast can best be described as fluffy. The actors are all very competent, but none of them manages to grab you fully. Even the actors playing Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek, who in many productions have been known to steal the show ( think of Brian Dennehy and Stephen Ouimette in the Stratford production a few years ago) do not have a big impact. Amusing, yes, but that is all.
In summary then, I am glad we saw it, but I could have waited for the film.