The 12 Plays of Christmas – Day 12 – Twelfth Night

And thus we reach the last play in our list of the 12 Plays of Christmas.  Today is Twelfth Night, signaling the last day of winter, and Epiphany Eve, and work beginning again in the fields… so Twelfth Night is all about fun, and removing Christmas decorations.  The play “Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare is all about fun.

“Twelfth Night” is my favourite comedy.  It starts with a shipwreck and a set of twins… Viola survives the wreck only to find that women are not welcome on the island.  So she dresses as a boy.  She begins working for Duke Orsino, who uses her to woo Olivia.  However, Olivia falls for Cessario – Viola in disguise.  Viola also complicates matters by falling for the Duke, but cannot reveal that she is a woman.  Later on it is revealed that her brother, Sebastian, also survived.  He bumps into Olivia, and this more hilarity ensues.

The subplot involves Sir Toby Belch, a cousin of Olivia living off of the wealth of others, and Malvolio, her servant with ideas above his station.  Maria, another servant, with Toby devises a plan to overthrow Malvolio’s ego by pretending to be Olivia, and writing a love letter to Malvolio, so that he would act strangely around his boss.  One of the funniest scenes in all of Shakespeare follows.

Often performed is the “yellow stockings, cross-gartered” scene, which is hillarious.  Any of the scenes with Sir Toby are farcical and can be very entertaining.  Another brilliant scene is the one where Olivia falls for Viola in disguise, it is very well written, and wonderful with 2 female actors who have great comic timing.  For a somewhat unexpected 15 minute scene, I would run the scene where Olivia, Sebastian, Orsino and Viola all unveil the plots and twins and disguises.  It has the potential for greatness.


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