Monday, August 30, 2010

Liveblogging Twelfth Night: Location Shots

In Act I, scenes i and ii, we have a couple of location shots. First, Duke Orsino--full of confused romanticism and self-pity. Then Viola on the shore, having (miraculously?) survived a shipwreck that seems to have claimed her brother. Viola seems deeply bereft by the apparent lost, but Viola, unlike Olivia in this play (rather rather more like Imogene in Pericles?)is not one to let grief overcome her; she makes a plan...

Curious fact: Shakespeare lost a son; his name was "Hamnet," and students of Hamlet have raised their eyebrows at the seeming coincidence. One might also observe that Hamnet left behind a surviving twin sister--who, as it happens, lived on to the age of 77,

Pennington remains a goldmine of commentary, but he says one thing that I want to question:
It is a truism in theatre that we believe someone is a king, and what kind of a king, not from his own behaviour but from the attitude of those around him...
I don't think this is entirely right. Perhaps we need to be told that the great man is a great man; but we must also see it. If our experience contradicts the observation, then we may question the observational powers of the observer. I've unburdened myself before on "Oh what a noble mind is here o'erthrown."  Just lately in Ashland's Henry IV-people treated young Prince Hal as if they knew he would be king, but we, the audience, wondered if he could do it.   So also when Lear says "Aye, every inch a king"-do we believe him? By contrast, Richard II works if and insofar as we see that the stage Richard is woefully unsuited to wear a crown.

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