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|Friday, 22 April 2005 06:18|
Twelfth Night: Peter Hall Company, 1991. Olivia: Sara Crowe; Viola: Maria Miles; Director: Peter Hall; Designer: Timothy O'Brien; Photograher: Donald Cooper. Courtesy AHDS.
STAGING TWELFTH NIGHT
Many critics, such as Stephen Booth, consider Twelfth Night Shakespeare's outstanding comic achievement, and it is usually very successful in performance. Recently critics have treated Malvolio's humiliation as close to tragic, and Orsino's affection for the "boy" Cesario/Viola as raising serious doubts about his heterosexuality, both views reflected in modern performances. Olivia has also been treated more critically, as obsessive (5.4.8). These issues make the play much darker, to the point that Sir Toby Belch may seem a sinister drunkard (6.2.30). The result is a play nearer in ominous temper to Measure for Measure (6.2.31). Feste's rueful songs thus become truly choric. It is not certain whether this reading is true to the original audience expectation figured in the alternative title, What You Will, or merely reflects the impact of modern critical morbidity. HMR
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Twelfth Night: William Farren (1786-1861) as Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
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