Twelfth Night (2008)
July 5, 6, 13, 18, 20, 25, 31, August 2, 2008 @ 8pm
“What country, friend, is this?
It is Illyria, lady.”
So begins a tale of shipwrecked siblings, pirates, mistaken identities, misplaced love, inflated egos, drunken revelry, and all kinds of high spirited hi-jinks.
Twins Viola and Sebastian are traveling on board ship when they are caught in a storm and shipwrecked. Rescued by the ship’s captain, Viola ends up on the shore of Illyria, a land ruled by Duke Orsino. With the Captain’s help, Viola disguises herself as a young man, taking the name of “Cesario”. She obtains employment in the Duke’s household, where he uses her as a messenger. Orsino is in love with the Lady Olivia, a wealthy young woman of Illyria, who has shut herself away while she mourns her brother’s death. She has no interest in Orsino and all of his previous messengers have been rejected. However, “Cesario” gains admittance and captivates Olivia with “his” turn of phrase. Olivia is clearly smitten, which places Viola/Cesario in something of a quandary as she has fallen for Orsino herself.
Olivia’s house is at sixes and sevens. Her uncle, Sir Toby Belch, is pressuring Olivia to marry his friend, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, an idiotic young man of some wealth. This is primarily with the goal in mind of keeping Sir Toby in the style to which he has become accustomed. Furthermore, Olivia’s steward, the priggish Malvolio, has thoughts above his station, which leads Toby, Andrew, Olivia’s companion, Maria and clown, Feste, to plot their revenge. While Olivia struggles to stave off Orsino and hold the interest of Cesario, Toby, Maria and their cohorts become engrossed in playing an outlandish practical joke on the smug Malvolio with the aim of giving him his come-uppance.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Viola, her twin brother Sebastian has been rescued by the pirate captain Antonio and has arrived in Illyria. Sebastian is befuddled by the reactions he receives in town – everyone seems to know him, though they call him by the wrong name. Even more surprising is the reaction he gets when he meets the Lady Olivia!
Things become more confusing for everyone. Messages meant for Cesario are delivered to Sebastian, challenges meant for Sebastian are sent to Cesario, Antonio is arrested, a duel of sorts is fought, and general chaos ensues. However, as is the case in most of Shakespeare’s comedies, eventually true identities are revealed, true feelings are expressed, pardons are given, and most of the participants enjoy a happy ending. But, because this isn’t a fairy tale, Shakespeare reminds us that in every life there is some bad to be taken with the good and “the rain, it raineth every day.”
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