Sunday, February 5, 2017

Day 192 Twelfth Night-Shakespeare-Love and Laughs- Get Some “Culture” at the O’Reilly Theater

My blog inspiration book, Everything I Need to Know I learned From a Little Golden Book, says that we should, “take in some culture once in a while.” What better way to do that than with a little Shakespeare!   In Day 191, I enjoyed the musical comedy, “Something Rotten,” which was about the birth of musical theater during the Renaissance to compete with the popularity of Shakespeare. Therefore, I thought that taking in the “real deal,” Twelfth Night, a Shakespeare comedy, would be  appropriate.

Feste, sings in a jazzy/ragtime genre
Photo by Micheal Henninger 

If you are like me and have not seen or read any Shakespeare since you were forced to do so in high school, this production is a good way to experience it again and “get some culture.”  It is full of laughs, people in search of love, and it’s not that difficult to follow.  Maybe it was appealing to me because  this  version  is set in the pre-World War 1 era, in 1912.  Shakespeare included three songs for the jester (Feste), who is  the “fool” in this version, and these  songs are sung in a  jazzy/ ragtime genre.  
Olivia shows affection to Viola as Cesario
Photo by Micheal Henninger 

Twelfth Night has a lot of characters falling  in love, with a twist.   The play opens with a  young woman (Viola) who is shipwrecked and believing  that her brother (Sebastian) has drowned, and that she is alone in a new land, she disguises herself as a man (Cesario) to find work.  Viola, in the man disguise,  works  for the nobleman (Duke Orsino) who she eventually falls in love with. The play starts with Orsino agonizing over his love for a  Lady Olivia.  Lady Olivia falls for Viola as Cesario,  when  Cesario is sent by  Orsino to  profess his love for her. You get the picture, there is a lot of people falling in love with the wrong person producing a humorous  love triangle.  Eventually, it all gets sorted out and everyone finds their perfect match for blissful happiness.

Sir Toby, Maria, & Fabian  plotting a trick on Malvolio
photo by Micheal Henninger 

There are a bunch of strong characters that steal their  scene and  there are other plots going on too.  Lady Olivia’s uncle (Sir Toby Belch) was my favorite character as a jolly, happy go lucky, drinking party boy (not unlike a few people that I know). Sir Toby elicits a lot of laughs when he frolics about with  his friend (Sir Andrew Aguecheek)  and the fool, Feste. Sir Andrew also has a crush on Lady Olivia and  Sir Toby  has a romantic interest in  Lady Olivia’s waiting-gentlewomen (Maria).

Malvolio trying to impress Olivia
Photo by Micheal Henninger  

These four characters like to “party” and since their fun is often  spoiled by the staunch steward of  the home (Malvolio), they trick him  into thinking that Lady Olivia loves him by forging a letter from Lady Olivia. In the  letter, he is told to wear yellow stockings and constantly smile to win her love.  Thinking to be mad, Malvolio  ends up in an asylum because of his strange behavior and his advances toward Lady Olivia.   I felt bad for Malvolio, who was in my opinion, was bullied but I think that is how we are supposed to feel.

Duke  Orsino and Viola fall in love
Photo by Micheal Henninger 
Like all plays at the O’Reilly,  the smaller theater size (650 seats), enhances   the action making it  up close and personal no matter where you sit. This fast moving play with colorful  characters is the perfect way to celebrate the month of love and to “take in some culture” especially if you’re like me, new to Shakespeare.  

(The play run until February 26, 2017 at the O'Reilly Theater as part of the Cultural Trust Events )

Other Sources