This is not a Theatre Review, I am an amateur enthusiast not a critic. I enjoyed both shows for what they were, and they were very different productions. The Apollo production was star-studded, with exquisite costumes and the production went back to the premise of an all male cast which is what Shakespeare worked with out of necessity, and a taste of being in the round, with a seating area built on each side of the stage. That is where I wanted to be, not up in the God's, but down amongst the dust motes, spittle and grease paint.
Ok Twelfth night is not a spittley sort of production, but one of my enduring Shakespeare theatre memories is of King Lear ranting, (spittle flying) which I went to see in The Tabacco Factory Theatre in Bristol, some years ago. The production was raw and brutal, with a sparse set; highly contrasting lighting; and with seating that allowed you to see the pores in the actors' skin.
For this reason the Twelfth Night production at Hoxton Hall was absolutely engaging, the actors used the full space of the theatre, they wove around in between the audience, they hung over the balcony, and they came onto and left the stage from every direction. It was bawdy, and funny (which is the point of the play,) but it was also challenging the distinction between audience and cast.
I love theatre, and always have. I am fortunate to have parents who are regular theatre-goers and I remember going to pantos and musicals as a young child. Seeing Joseph for the first time was a seminal experience for me, it was a pre-London production at the Leicester Haymarket (I grew up in Leicester and this was too long ago for me to confess to here). I had no idea who the actors were, in fact as far as I was concerned, they just were the people they were portraying on stage. The, now demolished, Haymarket in Leicester was a great theatre for the audience, because there were no posts or pillars, and the stage projected out into the audience. However this great viewing experience was also its downfall because the capacity of the theater limited its income, and it failed to be financially viable.
Financial viability is the tightrope that all of us that are involved in the arts has to walk, do you do something because it is popular and sells, or do you challenge your audience with something new they might not like? Do you seek popular approval and approbation - not to mention money, or do you plough your own furrow? (avoiding the Shakespearian interpretation of this phrase obviously.) Furthermore when choosing the audience you are targeting do you preach to the converted, at the risk of being elitest, or do you throw open your soul to all comers, with the inevitable trampling that will incur.
I don't think I promised to answer these questions, which is just as well because I don't know, I just thought I would think them out loud for you.