Sunday, September 05, 2010

Liveblogging Twelfth Night: The Plot's Afoot

We continue with out snail-pace slow read of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (with commentary): we're almost through Act I.  Which is to say, we've done the first for snappy set-up shots and have made our way iinto (but not through) scene 5, where the characters begin to engage.

Recapping--in scene 1, we met the lovesick Orlando, barely able to follow his clotted romanticism.  Scene 2 was an abrupt shift to Viola as she confronted the wreckage of one life and set out to fashion another.  Scene three was more leisurely: we met Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and the lady's maid Maria. We also meet Feste, the "wise fool,"--somedbody (Bloom?) calls him the only sane character in the play.   He's said to be a departure from some of Shakespeare's prior foolery, fashioned to respond to the talents of the new clown in the company, Robert Armin.  But I'm not persuaded: he's distinctive, of course--every--Shakespeare character is different from every other.  But Feste seems to not all that different from Touchstone in As You Like It, not that many years before, and even some of the mad north-by-northwest foolery of Hamlet, just months before.  Feste also seems to mirror an even saner fool in an even madder play--King Lear, which is yet to come.   In scene 3 we also meet Malvlio. for just long enough to get to know him, so we will understand when he falls victim to the mother of all pranks, just a few scenes away.

Scene 4 takes us back to Orsino's court.  Olivia in disguise on stage as Cesario, breaks the fourth wall and her assumed identity to tell us--as Oliviaz--that she is falling in love with this guy.  We also suspect that Orsino may be a bit distracted himself.  You have expect a little putto cupid to fly over the stage and dispatch an arrow to go "boi-i-i-n-n-g" in Orsino's heart.

In scene 5 we finally get down to business: Viola and Olivia, the anamgram girls, in heartfelt confrontation.  More of that when we've finished the scene.

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