Thursday, March 24, 2011

March Madness?

16. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

So March has been crazy busy for me, as evidenced by the lack of posts. Also, for the first half of March, I literally didn't manage to finish reading anything in full. Now I'm back on track, and I can now say I've read Twelfth Night, which the movie Shakespeare in Love had me geared up for.

So, we've got some familiar plot points, a girl dressed as a boy, twins lost at sea and separated, unrequited love, and ridiculous servants. This is the first Clown in Shakespeare, I think, so Feste is a forerunner of Touchstone. We've got Sir Toby Belch, the uncouth uncle, who actually isn't quite like anyone I've seen before, he's a touch of villain and fool both. Our prof showed us the most recent film version, a modernized take, and the scene with Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Feste jamming out is fantastic and fits so well with the music in the play.

This play seems to me to be more lighthearted than most of them, but again there's hints of tragedy in Viola's love for Orsino and Olivia's for Cesario and I think you can play it as either ridiculous or serious. That's the thing with plays. I enjoyed the clever female servant Maria. Notice how the women in Shakespeare's comedies always come off looking best? Except, perhaps, Titania. But when it comes to love, the lady gets her choice , whether the man likes it or no. What does this mean? That women make better choices or are simply better at getting their way?

In any case, an enjoyable jaunt that blends in with the other comedies.

On a sidenote, I saw my school's production of Richard III last night, and it reminded me that nearly all the quotes on my Shakespearean Insults mug are from that play, including, "thou lump of foul deformity," and "thou elvish-mark'd abortive rooting hog." I was really impressed with the set, a grand staircase with a throne above, columns, and fake stained glass and it was used well, with a lot of very interesting and significnat staging and costuming. Unfortunately, the actors (and incidentally men played women and women played men, which I didn't think either added or took away much), were mostly not up to the task. They demonstrated understanding of the language, but didn't use it with a wide or sensible range of emotional dexterity and in more than one case lacked emotions appropriate to the scene. Especially Richard, as played, was not sympathetic enough. He's a difficult character to make sympathetic obviously, but there are lines and subtext in the play that explain him and it wasn't played up enough. Now I want to see it with real professional actors.

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