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And, in a play that combines romantic comedy with a celebration of the anarchic spirit of misrule, the bawdy comic parts shine. There is subtle and satisfying work from the quartet of Colin Hurley as drunken Sir Toby Belch, Lloyd Pack as foolish Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Paul Chahidi as quick-witted maidservant Maria and Peter Hamilton Dyer as witty fool Feste.

Rylance is not the only piece of star casting in this robust crowd-pleaser of a play. Actor-comedian Stephen Fry has his first stage role for more than 15 years as Olivia’s steward Malvolio, whose pomposity sets him up for a fall. It’s a tricky part, both villain and victim, and Fry carries it off with skill as part of an exceptional acting ensemble.

“Richard III” and “Twelfth Night” run in rep at London’s Apollo Theatre until Feb. 10.

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Online: http://www.shakespearewestend.com

Jill Lawless can be reached at http://Twitter.com/JillLawless