I saw a quite over-the-top, not terribly fantastic, production of Twelfth Night tonight, but I’m not going to waste time reviewing it–primarily because I’m typing this on my iPod, which is kind of a pain.
What I wanted to say is that Twelfth Night is my favorite Shakespeare, and not just because of the gender issues. What I like is the nuance in the plot, and the acceptance that even in a comedy, not everyone’s fortunes will turn out well. Of course, all is roses for Viola, Orsino, Olivia, and Sebastian (which this production made eminently clear by showering the stage–and audience–with stupid rose petals), but this isn’t the case for a lot of characters. Most famous for being “most notoriously wronged” is Malvolio, of course, who by the end of the play is a highly sympathetic character. But Antonio is often overlooked, and there’s an undeniable “love that dare not speak its name” quality to his unrequited adoration for Sebastian, 300 years before the phrase. And there’s Feste, left standing alone onstage at the end. Where do all these odd folks fit in the happily-ever-after scheme of normalcy that the traditional twin marriages enforce?
Were I a better literary scholar, I’d posit why Shakespeare made that choice–but as it is I think we’ve now successfully learned why exactly this is my favorite Shakespeare.