Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Twelfth Night: Or What You Will (1996)

A fun romp with Shakespeare! A stellar cast brings the story to life whilst staying true to the writer's ideal.

The story line is simple…yet complex! Major players are:

*a set of twins, Viola and Sebastian that are separated after a storm at sea. Viola (Imogen Stubbs) masquerades as a young man called Cesario to protect herself from harm. She ends up a close companion of Orsino and woos the Lady Olivia on his behalf.
*the Duke of Illyria, Count Orsino (Toby Stephens) head of the military force, who is ignoring his duties in his lovesick pining for the Lady Olivia and finds himself strangely attracted to the faithful Cesario .
*the Lady Olivia (Helena Bonham-Carter) who has sworn off men, but who falls for Cesario - who is really Viola.
*the clown, Feste (Ben Kingsley) who watches all and marvels at all the goings-on.

Smaller storylines include:

*a self-important servant, Malvolio (Nigel Hawthorne) enamoured of his mistress, the Lady Olivia.
*Sir Toby Belch (Mel Smith) a relative of the Lady Olivia who favours Sir Andrew in his endeavours to win Olivia’s hand and who has an eye on Olivia’s housekeeper, Maria (Imelda Staunton). Sir Toby also seeks revenge in the form of embarrassment and madness on Malvolio for his high and mighty behaviour.
*Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Richard Grant) who is hopeful of wooing the lady Olivia, but is continually out of luck.

Imogen Stubbs is the main player and does very good work in being both girl and boy, a sister mourning her brother and is kept busy wooing Olivia whilst being enamoured of Orsino. Helena Bonham-Carter is magnificent as Olivia – she shows wonderful comic acting and you just have to smile watching her.

Toby Stephens is incredibly good looking (no two ways about it, just have to say it!!) and is a wonderful Shakespearian actor. The dialogue falls naturally from his lips and he has just the right amount of emotion for each scene – nothing is over or under acted and the result is impeccable. My only gripe is that his part is too short!

Ben Kingsley relishes his part as the rather wise fool. He sings as well and the folk songs are quite haunting.

Nigel Hawthorne shows his brilliance and you see a bit of magnificent unhinged behaviour as he displayed in The Madness of King George. Superb acting.

Mel Smith plays a great Sir Toby – wine sotted and full of glee. Richard E Grant is suitably wimpish as Sir Andrew and makes his part quite believable. Imelda Staunton, plays a small but strong part as the housekeeper. Sebastian (Steven Mackintosh) has a smaller part, but delivers it well.

Shot on location in Cornwall, the scenery is quite beautiful and along with a fun story and superb acting, it will leave a smile on your face all the way through and for hours afterwards! Enjoy!!

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