Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Twelfth Night - Shakespeare

'Twelfth Night' opens with a lonely duke, Orsino.  He calls music 'the food of love' and wishes to overstuff himself in order to kill that love.  We quickly learn that he is in love with a Countess named Olivia but she won't love him back.
In the meantime, there has been a shipwreck.  Two survivors climb onto the beach and try to establish where they are.  One of them, Viola, asks if her brother has survived and is told that he hasn't.  She decides that since she is in a foreign place, she will disguise herself as a man and seek shelter with the Duke Orsino. 
Orsino brings the disguised Viola into his house and asks her to woo Olivia in his name.  She does so but (twist!), Olivia falls for Viola.  To make things more confusing, Viola's brother Sebastian has survived and also enters the town.  Olivia finds him and quickly marries him.  There is much confusion that is (fortunately!) all straightened out and we end up with two happy couples, Olivia and Sebastian; Viola and Count Orsino.

While all of this is happening, a group of rogues that live in the Countesses house are up to no good.  There we find Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheeck carousing to all hours of the night.  With the help of the maid and the clown, Feste, they get up to one hilarious scheme after the other. 
Their main target is Olivia's steward, a dour man named Malvolio.  Malvolio dreams of marrying the countess himself and they get him good.  They leave a note in her handwriting, praising him and wishing that he would wear yellow, cross-gartered stockings.  He does so and becomes incredibly foolish.  Eventually he finds out and, cursing everyone involved, walks out.

I don't think I've read or seen 'Twelfth Night' before. I enjoyed it quite a bit, especially the downstairs goings on.  Between Belch and Aguecheek, Shakespeare has created a couple of wonderful drunken idiots.  They are highlighted by their counterpoint, Malvolio, who is ridiculously harsh and pompous.  (I would love to play that role myself!)  The 'upstairs' elements are fun too, and a perfectly fine love story, but they are overshadowed by the rest.
I enjoyed this quite a bit.

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