"One of Britain's best and boldest devising companies" (Metro - 2011)
“ A company celebrated for their irreverent, penetrating deconstructions of the classics”
(Independent – 2015)
Led by actors Oliver Dimsdale and Ferdy Roberts, and musician Tim Phillips, Filter has been creating innovative, exciting theatre since 2003. Filter's unique collaborative language explores the interaction between sound, music, text, and movement, in a desire to make stories that awaken the imaginative senses of an audience. Working out of a sense of trust, and retaining a robust emotional honesty and playfulness, the company creates new works of original theatre, as well as dynamic incarnations of existing texts.
Filter continues to be at the forefront of contemporary theatre-making as a deviser of new pieces. Filter’s first show Faster, inspired by James Gleick’s book about the acceleration of everyday life in the modern world, was developed and first performed at the Battersea Arts Centre in April 2003, where it was a runaway hit. Faster also played the Soho Theatre, the Lyric Hammersmith, toured the UK, and visited Germany and New York.
In 2016 Filter will create its most ambitious work to date: a Western exploring how a European odyssey and various cultural collisions combined to create the United States of America. Directed by Sir Michael Boyd with a script by David Greig and songs by Tim Phillips, Filter’s Western will premiere at the Lyric, Hammersmith before a fourteen week UK tour.
Alongside original work, Filter has produced dynamic and innovative interpretations of classic texts: Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle for the National Theatre on tour (2006); Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night for the RSC first performed in 2006 and out of which came the Filter feature film What You Will, released in 2012; Chekhov’s Three Sisters for the Lyric Hammersmith on tour (2010) ; Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream for a UK Tour, Lyric Hammersmith and The Manchester Royal Exchange (2011-2013); and Macbeth for Bristol’s Tobacco Factory Theatre on tour 2014-2015.
All Filter’s work tours the UK, Europe and beyond, reaching a wide and diverse audience, young and old.
Like many of Shakespeare's comedies, Twelfth Night centres on mistaken identity. The leading character, Viola, is shipwrecked on the shores of Illyria. She loses contact with her twin brother, Sebastian, whom she believes is dead. Masquerading as a young page under the name ‘Cesario’, she enters the service of Duke Orsino.
Orsino is in love with the bereaved Lady Olivia, whose father and brother have recently died, and who will have nothing to do with any suitors, the Duke included. Orsino decides to use "Cesario" as an intermediary to tell Olivia about his love for her. Olivia, believing Viola to be a young man, falls in love with this handsome and eloquent messenger. Viola, in turn, has fallen in love with the Duke, who also believes Viola is a man, and who regards her as his confidant.
Much of the play is taken up with the comic subplot, in which several characters conspire to make Olivia's pompous head steward, Malvolio, believe that his lady Olivia wishes to marry him. It involves Olivia's uncle Sir Toby Belch; another would-be suitor, a silly squire ‘Sir Andrew Aguecheek’; her servant Maria; and her father's favorite fool, Feste. Sir Toby and Sir Andrew get drunk and disturb the peace of their lady's house prompting Malvolio to chastise them.
This is the basis for Sir Toby's, Sir Andrew, and Maria's revenge on Malvolio. The riotous company convinces Malvolio that Olivia is secretly in love with him through a love letter written by Maria in Olivia's hand asking Malvolio to wear yellow stockings cross-gartered, to be rude to the rest of the servants, and to smile constantly in the presence of Olivia. When Olivia asks for her chief steward,she is shocked by a Malvolio who has seemingly lost his mind. She leaves him to the contrivances of his tormentors. Pretending that Malvolio is insane, they lock him up in a dark cellar (a common "treatment" for the mentally ill).
Feste visits him to mock his "insanity", once disguised as a priest, and again as himself. At the end of the play Malvolio learns of their conspiracy and storms off promising revenge. Meanwhile Sebastian, Viola's brother, believed deceased, has arrived on the scene, sowing confusion. Mistaking him for Viola, Olivia asks him to marry her, and they are secretly united. Finally, when the twins appear in the presence of both Olivia and the Duke, there is more wonder and awe at their similarity, at which point Viola reveals she is really a female and that Sebastian is her lost twin brother.
The play ends in a declaration marriage between the Duke and Viola, and it is learned that Toby has married Maria. Feste’s song "heigh-ho, the wind and the rain" brings the entertainment to a close.
‘One of the best Twelfth Night’s I’ve ever seen.’ What’s On Stage
‘’The most hard-hearted purists would melt at Filter’s 90-minute reworking of this play, directed with passion, panache and precision by Sean Holmes. For newcomers to Shakespeare, I can’t think of a better introduction.’ Sunday Times
‘The production has a messy, joyful, off –the-cuff quality.’ Guardian ‘Rock-and Roll Shakespeare’s a blast…. Filter is a company blessed with wit, style and a touch of magic…. This irreverent and inventive Twelfth Night never outstays its welcome…. ’ Daily Telegraph
‘The real virtue of this production is that it puts the fun back into Twelfth Night and allows us to become participants in a feast of misrule.’ Guardian ‘Sean Holmes’s production is a jolly good knees-up for all.’ Daily Mail
‘Infects the audience with the play’s celebratory spirit of madness from the start… You leave feeling slightly changed yourself.’ Metro
‘Shakespeare was never like this. Do not miss out.’ British Theatre Guide
**** Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Financial Times, Metro, Sunday Times
***** Independent, WhatsonStage