Review: Twelfth Night

Posted 19 February, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Twelfth Night
By: William Shakespeare
Format/Source: Audiobook from LibriVox

Separated from her twin brother Sebastian after a shipwreck, Viola disguises herself as a boy to serve the Duke of Illyria. Wooing a countess on his behalf, she is stunned to find herself the object of his beloved’s affections. With the arrival of Viola’s brother, and a trick played upon the countess’s steward, confusion reigns in this romantic comedy of mistaken identity.

My William Shakespeare Reading Challenge 2014 may be over, but continuing to read Shakespeare isn’t! 🙂 I first read Twelfth Night in Grade 10 English. I have fond memories of this play, partly because of the assignments we had to complete about the play, but also the story itself and the situations around it. I decided to revisit it again as I recently purchased a DVD of the 2012 performance at the Globe starring Mark Rylance and Stephen Fry. I had started reading the play but then I got sick and couldn’t read so I ended up listening to the audiobook dramatisation instead.

Firstly, omg, it was a lot funnier than I remembered. The confusion and the assumptions were pretty crazy, especially in the latter half of the play. Like the first time I read it, the trick that Toby and company pulled on Malvolio was pretty cruel, but at the same time Malvolio is just so pompous and full of himself that he was so easily played, he fell right into their plans. And the stockings bit and the smiling was pretty hilarious (okay, I admit, I have the stage scene in my head as I was listening to that part). Pitting Sir Andrew and Cesario against each other over Olivia was also pretty stir-crazy and trouble-rousing, but hilarious at the same time because neither person wanted to fight the other. And LMAO that Sebastian just went with everything; he clearly voices his confusion, rationalises it, then goes with it, causing more confusion for all players in the process. Oh, and poor Viola/Cesario finding herself in quite the love triangle with Olivia and Orsino. So yeah, I found myself chuckling quite a bit as I was listening to the play.

In other character moments, I also forgot how tricky a character Toby is. He takes part in fooling Malvolio, but I forgot that he was also playing Sir Andrew for his own ends. And now I remember why I was more than satisfied that Sebastian knocked him out. Like before, I wish Orsino had more scenes, he seemed to be quite the non-entity compared to other characters; I think I have a soft spot for the character too because Toby Stephens did such a good job bringing the character to life in the 1996 adaptation. I also found Olivia not as remote to me compared to the first time I read her character; I think this is because I’ve seen different interpretations of the character since (Helena Bonham Carter in the 1996 film adaptation, Mark Rylance in the 2012 stage adaptation), so that was interesting.

All in all, I had a lot of fun revisiting Twelfth Night. It was funny, it was crazy, it had some lovely moments. A great reminder of how much I love this play and why it’s one of my favourites by Shakespeare! Can’t wait to watch the 2012 adaptation when it arrives in my mailbox now 😉

Rating: ★★★★★

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