Twelfth Night: Act 3, Scene 1 (part 2)

THE STORY SO FAR: Olivia has fallen in love with Cesario, who is actually Viola dressed as a boy. Viola is in love with Orsino, who is in love with Olivia, who refuses to take "no" for an answer, and everyone is just really confused.

Oh Olivia. You're adorable. 

Twelfth Night: Act 3, Scene 1 (part 1)

With all the excitement over Malvolio's letter last week, you'd be forgiven for forgetting the "main" plot of Twelfth Night is about this girl dressed as a boy who is wooing a woman who is in love with him/her on behalf of the man who she/he secretly loves.

Got it? 

Poor Sir Andrew just can't win. 

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REVIEW: "Breath of Kings" at the Stratford Festival

Here is my review of the Stratford Festival's productions of Breath of Kings: Rebellion and Breath of Kings: Redemption. They're essentially two halves of the same production, so I'm lumping them together. This is what the general story is:

And here's what I thought of it:

EXTRA THOUGHTS (because I can't fit them all into a comic):

I have been deeply immersed in Shakespeare's history plays for decades now, so I am completely incapable of figuring out how accessible and understandable this production is to people unfamiliar with the plays and the history behind it. I thought that Abbey's adaptation was very clear in highlighting the important beats of the story as it unfolded, but at this point I could see these plays in an entirely foreign language and still know what was going on. If you saw this production and weren't that familiar with the history plays, please leave me a comment and let me know what you thought!

There are lots of great performances in these plays, particularly Tom Rooney as Richard II (bringing Richard's wry, self-deprecating, and theatrical sense of humor to the forefront), and Geraint Wyn Davies as Falstaff (one of those casting notices where you nod your head and say "Yep. That was the right choice.") However, I just wanted to give a special mention to Carly Street, who plays a handful of characters including Thomas Mowbray, Lady Percy, the Douglas, and the Archbishop of York, and was unspeakably badass as all of them. A good subtitle for these plays would be "Carly Street Yelling At Men And Showing Them How To Behave", and it's all glorious. 

The set probably deserves a mention. For Rebellion, the stage is covered in a brown mulch that looks like earth, which is progressively scarred, disturbed, and tossed around as Richard's reign decays, revealing an interlocking stone floor beneath it. In Redemption, large chunks of the this stone floor are physically uprooted throughout the action, until, after the battle of Agincourt, the stage resembles the aftermath of an earthquake. It was a bit fussy at times, but very visually striking. 

It is (understandably) very rare to be able to see all four of these plays performed in the same season with the same cast, which is a pity as they are inextricably linked together. The Breath of Kings adaptation is a great way to see them all placed within their proper context, without having to sit through twelve straight hours of history plays. While obviously a lot of text has been removed, it has been by and large done in a very elegant and rational way, and the resulting plays are well worth watching. 

Twelfth Night: Act 2, Scene 5 (part 1)

THE COMIC SUBPLOT SO FAR: In order to get revenge on Malvolio for being a stuck-up and pretentious jerk, Maria plans to drop a fake love letter from Olivia somewhere where he will find it...

Don't ask me who Fabian is. He is introduced purely to be a third wheel in the Malvolio subplot, substituting in a way for Feste, who disappears from these scenes until the dark room bit much later on. Fabian is fairly extraneous, but he also has one of my all-time favorite groan-worthy punchlines, which we'll get to later. 

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Twelfth Night: Act 2, Scene 4 (part 2)

THE STORY SO FAR: In her disguise as Cesario, Viola has gone to woo Olivia for her master, Orsino (with whom Viola is secretly in love). Olivia says she can't love Orsino, but Orsino is kind of a jerk and won't take no for an answer. For some reason, Viola still loves him. 

The "Patience on a monument" monologue is another one of Viola's famous speeches. If you didn't make it through the whole episode of Playing Shakespeare that I shared with you on Tuesday, here it is again, so you can hear Dame Judi's take on it (around the 48-minute mark).

I'm not even joking when I say I watching bits of the Playing Shakespeare series when I'm feeling down. I enjoy it so much. 

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Twelfth Night: Act 2, Scene 4 (part 1)

THE STORY SO FAR: Orsino sent Cesario (who is actually Viola and is in love with him) to woo Olivia on his behalf. Olivia fell in love with Cesario, who returns to Orsino to find him still moping about self-indulgently, wallowing in love-sickness.

The interplay between Viola and Orsino in this scene is adorable. She matches all his posturing with genuine, eloquent sentiment, and you can see him starting to think more seriously about his little pretty "boy" friend. 

Incidentally, in my favorite TV program of all time, John Barton's Playing Shakespeare, Barton rehearses this entire scene with Judi Dench and Richard Pasco. It's well worth a watch over your lunch break or something. Here's a sub-par YouTube clip of it:

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Twelfth Night: Act 2, Scene 3 (part 2)

THE STORY SO FAR: While Viola is struggling with a cross-dressed love triangle, Sir Toby is busy partying into the wee hours of the night, accompanied (and funded) by his pal and patsy, Sir Andrew Aguecheek. This does not amuse Malvolio.

This bit of the scene actually has two of my favorite lines. One classic line is Sir Toby's "Dost thou think that because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?" It's basically one of the best lines to trot out when someone is being smug and superior. LET'S HEAR IT FOR CAKES AND ALE. 

The second line I love is Sir Andrew's plaintive "I was adored once too." It's pathetic for a number of reasons, mostly because (a) it's part of a whole series of exchanges where Sir Andrew is basically running around after the big kids shouting "Oooh! Me too!" in a desperate attempt to win approval, and (b) it implies, probably accurately, that Sir Andrew is no longer adored.

When you're done giving Antonio a hug, give Sir Andrew a hug too. He needs a hug.

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