Shipwrecked twins are lost among love-sick aristocrats, unruly servants, mischievous pleasure seekers, clowns, and a puritan. With music as the bittersweet "food of love," all converge and conspire in this comic journey.
A noblewoman disguises herself as a young man and falls for her employer, a lovesick count. Unfortunately, the count's beloved falls for the disguised noblewoman and a comedy of unrequited love and mistaken identities ensues.
A surprisingly good and very interesting version of my personal favourite Shakespeare play
I do like a lot of Shakespeare's plays, the language is not as easy to understand but some synopsis reading and some lessons on Shakespeare, like I had to do for English GCSEs and A Levels, will do just the trick. They have compelling stories and characters, and I love the poetic and witty style of the language. As much as I do love the likes of Hamlet, Midsummer Night's Dream, Merry Wives of Windsor(or Falstaff if you are an opera fan), Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, Antony and Cleopatra and Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night is my personal favourite. It is deliciously funny and contains some of Shakespeare's most poetic prose(Much Ado About Nothing and Antony and Cleopatra also).
This 2003 version is not the definitive Twelfth Night for me. My favourite is between the 1980 and Branagh adaptations, and the Trevor Nunn film is excellent too for its great acting and exquisite visuals. I did find Sir Andrew rather cardboard, though Richard Bremmer did his very best with the role and does gain some chuckles, and two performances didn't work. Chiwetel Ejiofor is certainly handsome as Orsino but his performance has no real insight or motivation. David Troughton I do like, but even for a very rustic character like Sir Toby I did find him a little too coarse. While I did like the melancholic feel that the adaptation has, making the play more dimensional and more than a comedy(though essentially it is that) I did feel some parts did drag.
Conversely, this Twelfth Night does look great. I always like gorgeous scenery and photography and there is plenty of that here. The songs are beautifully incorporated and have a nice sense of rhythm to them. The dialogue still has its poetry and is still hilarious, especially with Malvolio, while the melancholic aspect is done surprisingly well. There are some interesting touches, such as the asylum seekers subplot and the Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, Feste and Maria spying on Malvolio via CCTV, and the multi-cultural aspect proved good, not just from a historical perspective but also it makes the play more accessible to a wider audience and ethnic minorities(or so I think). The performances are very good on the whole, Claire Price is very moving as Olivia, and there is a very amusing Feste from Zubin Varla. The standouts though were Parminder Nagra, who is not just entrancing to look at but her Viola looks very natural, and Michael Maloney's brilliant Malvolio, I did have a good giggle at the sight of him in yellow tights (pretty) hideous as they were.
Overall, interesting and surprisingly good. Maybe not the ideal version for everybody, especially traditionalists, but for those looking for solid fun this is a good watch. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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