Since we last saw Viola back in act 1, scene 2, she's had a haircut, found some clothes that look exactly like the clothes her drowned brother wore, adopted the name "Cesario", and has managed to inveigle her way into the inner circle of Duke Orsino. Whatever else she is, she's resourceful.
As we move forward through Twelfth Night, here are some things to keep in mind:
- In Shakespeare's time, women weren't allowed to act on the stage, so all the female roles would have been played by boys. This makes everybody's total inability to realize that Cesario is actually a girl much more understandable.
- If you are going to see a production of Twelfth Night, please do not get hung up on how much Cesario does NOT look like a boy (unless you're seeing an all-male production). It's called "willing suspension of disbelief".
- Having said that, please do feel free to laugh at how totally clueless everybody is about Cesario's true gender identity. No one in Illyria is particularly sharp on the uptake.
Tune in Thursday to see what happens when "Cesario" meets Olivia!