“Twelfth Night” is one of the finest comedies to have ever been created by Shakespeare. The play tells the story of the twins Viola and Sebastian. Shakespeare investigates the phenomenon of gender swapping. For the most part, Viola is dressed as a man. Comedy is derived exactly from this confusion – who is of which gender and how the perception changes due to the gender.The setting is the kingdom of Illyria where Orsino, a noble man tries to win over Lady Olivia. Meanwhile, Viola of aristocratic descent survives the shipwreck and lands on the shores of Illyria. She believes that her brother had drowned; therefore she tries to figure out what to do next. She heard of Orsino and Olivia from a friendly local captain. Since Olivia was not talking to strangers at all, finding work with Orsino seemed to be the only viable option. So, she changes her appearance and starts to live under pseudonym Cesario. Naturally, Viola becomes in love with Orsino, which creates additional laughter as to pursue this love interest for her is impossible. She is a man in Orsino’s eyes after all. Olivia, in her turn, falls in love with Cesario also believing him to be a man. In such a way, the author forms a love triangle. What is particularly ironic is none of the affections can be fulfilled. Sebastian does survive the catastrophe, and he believes that his sister did not make it. He comes to Illyria as well with his protector and friend Antonio, who put him back on the feet after the shipwreck. Sir Andrew catering for Orsino’s interests sees Olivia’s affection for Cesario and challenges the latter for a duel. However, it is Sebastian that he sees and mistakes for Cesario. Naturally, they have an altercation. Olivia comes in during the confusion and asks Sebastian to marry him believing he is Cesario. Sebastian has never met her before, but is nonetheless enthralled by Olivia. The confusion persists till the very end of the play until Viola’s true gender is revealed and the siblings are reunited again. Olivia and Orsino find their happiness with Sebastian and Viola respectively. There is no conflict as such safe maybe for the conflict between Viola’s true personality and her guise, which starts the entire chain of events contributing to the confusion. There are no conflicts between the characters as such but love affections they are trying to pursue. Conflict between Andrew and Cesario is non-existent, because it is with Sebastian that he starts the altercation by accident. The climax happens when Olivia asks seemingly Cesario to marry her even though it is Sebastian. This is the event which finalizes the start of the chain reaction of funny events to the point that even the audience has difficulty observing the characters and guessing where it is Cesario they see or Sebastian. The author has truly managed to push the boundaries of gender and of their perception as well as use these boundaries to create some great unique comedy.
The soft lights have always been used for backgrounds and for scenes when Viola showed up on stage so as to hide better her true nature. Background objects were also lighted with a light blue color so as to create a more magical atmosphere of the setting. Otherwise, the spotlights concentrated on the primary characters present on the stage at a given episode. All in all, Cabrillo Black Box theatre managed to put on a great production of the classic comedy. The decorations were minimal, so it was the actor’s play that provided the biggest amount of immersion into the plot intricacies of the play as well as different comical situations caused by Viola’s guise.
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