When students heard that Theatre 370’s spring production is
Shakespeare’s *Twelfth Night*, there may have been some internal groans. Shakespeare can seem
complicated and antiquated. But in truth, the themes in the plays are as
relevant today as in Shakespeare’s time. The director, Mr. Hickey, is also
working to revise the play, placing it in a more modern setting while
maintaining the original Shakespearean dialogue. Hickey also worked to cut
down and clarify some of the complicated subplots that take place behind
the main action of the play. The modern setting and the situational comedy
should make comprehension easier for viewers.
Long story short: Duke Orsino is in love with Lady Olivia, but she will not
have anything to do with suitors. Viola is shipwrecked and believes her
twin brother Sebastian to be dead; she thus pretends to be a boy and
becomes a servant to Orsino and gets sent to woo Olivia. However, Olivia
falls in love with Viola, believing her to be a boy. Viola falls in love
Sir Toby Belch (Olivia’s uncle), Sir Andrew Aguecheek (his friend), Maria
(a maid), Feste (a jester) and Fabian (a servant) plot to make a fool out
of Malvolio (Olivia’s head steward). They write a letter, apparently from
Olivia, in which she confesses her love for Malvolio and wishes him to
dress and behave in a ridiculous manner. Believing that this will get
Olivia to marry him, he does everything the letter asks but Olivia, who
knew nothing about this, has him locked away for being insane. They
eventually set him free but he is furious.
Sebastian, Viola’s brother, turns up and, believing him to be Viola (who
Olivia thinks is a boy) she asks him to marry her and he does. Viola’s
identity is revealed and Orsino falls in love with her and they marry and
it is revealed that Sir Toby and Maria have also married.
Twelfth Night is a true comedy, for only in a comedy would such a wacky
situation occur. Complete with a gender swapping protagonist, mistaken
identities, hopelessly tangled love lives and endless plotting, Twelfth
Night plays out almost like a soap opera. Shakespearean it may be. Boring,
it is not.
Twelfth Night will be performed on May 3rd through 5th at 7:30 PM at the
Holliston High School. There will be an additional performance at 3:00 PM
on Friday the 4th of May. The play will be performed at the Middle School
on May 2nd.