Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Mallory's Performance Review of "Twelfth Night"

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My favorite way to experience Shakespeare is my watching it, which is probably everyone's favorite way. I love the Globe Theater (I saw Julius Caesar there the summer after I graduated high school and being in the standing audience is an experience I'll never forget), so needless to say when I found out that you can rent Globe performances to watch on your laptop, I was very excited. It might not be as authentic as being in the audience in England, but it's much cheaper and more practical as a poor college student.

I chose to watch Twelfth Night. I loved watching it performed for many reasons, but one of the biggest is because that is the play I read with a partner this semester. It was fun to watch the story unfold, especially because I was already acquainted with the characters.

1. Character/performer analysis- The most interesting part about this particular performance was the cast. Just like the original Shakespeare plays were performed, this version of Twelfth Night featured an all male cast. Considering that one of the main characters, a woman named Viola, dresses up as her brother Sebastian for the majority of the play, this casting choice was hilarious. It was so entertaining to watch a man playing a female character who disguised herself as a man. An all male cast is a hard thing to pull off now that male and female actors are equally as common, so this easily could have turned out to be a dud. However, this casting was perfect. There are several prominent female roles in the play, so the men who played woman were distinguished by their costumes. Their makeup consisted of painted white faces with bright red lips, and stiff, almost plastic looking wigs. They also constantly spoke in voices that were obviously higher than their normal tones, which led to occasional cracking and squeaking, which only added to the hilarity of this comedy. Sir Toby was also a particularly delightful character. He is drunk for the majority of the play, so his cheeks and nose were noticeably redder than the rest of his face, and his hair was a tad disheveled.

2. Stage movement and effects- The set of Twelfth Night was simple yet beautiful. Because the stage isn't gigantic, the most impressive part of the effects were the costumes. Everyone was dressed in the most authentic Shakespearean era costume imaginable, with puffy pants and full skirts and lots of red, green, and yellow fabric. The actors took full advantage of the stage. There are scenes when actors are running away from each other, and in this they used the pillars and various larger props, such as tables and plants, to weave away from each other and provide a more intricate performance than simply standing still. The actors were very mobile, standing, sitting, running, tripping, and waving their arms, keeping the audience's attention and contributing to the light, happy feel of the entire play. The light is bright and even, rather than the dark, spotlighted set you'd expect in a tragedy like Hamlet.

3. Interpretation of script- Because this was performed at the Globe, the director's stayed very close to the original script. One of the best parts about watching a Globe performance is that everything is so well done. The Globe has forever been the home of Shakespeare's plays, and so they have quite the reputation to uphold. As such, the interpretation of the script was very true to the original. The actors are well rehearsed and speak their lines in the perfect meter. The lines flowed beautifully throughout the play, and the inflections in their voice made the jokes present throughout the script even more funny. Sir Toby in particular has many lines that insinuate crude remarks without coming outright, so the actor's delivery on these lines was crucial, and he did a phenomenal job. The audience ate the jokes up and that added a whole new depth to the play that you just don't get when you read it.

I loved this version of Twelfth Night. The actors were captivating and hilarious, the costumes were beautiful, and best of all, I got to watch a Globe performance from the comfort of my apartment. I will definitely be making good use of this remarkable resource.

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