BB: Twelfth Night, Act V

 

artwork - Leigh MacRae
artwork – Leigh MacRae

“… let no quarrel nor no brawl to come taint the condition of this present hour,” Fabian

Welcome back to Twelfth Night, Brawlers. This week we wrap up our recording of the play so get ready for act V!

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Only one scene in this act but it’s a pretty wild one.

Orsino, that lazy, pathetic ass, has finally decided that if he wants Olivia he should probably make some sort of effort himself to win her over. He runs into Feste and Fabian outside of Olivia’s house. Insert a couple of jokes about friends and asses before Orsino sends Feste to fetch Olivia. While he waits, Viola (yup, still disguised as Cesario) notices Antonio being lead before the Duke by an officer. Orsino immediately recognises him as a pirate, but Viola tries to plead for mercy as Antonio defended her from Sir Toby and Andrew Aguecheek’s attacks.

Antonio attempts to defend his presence in Illyria by explaining that he was bewitched by Sebastian’s good looks and obvious character into making stupid decisions like exposing himself to the death penalty by being caught wandering the streets of Illyria. To make matters worse, he accuses Viola (thinking it’s Sebastian) of having refused to give back the money he had given him in trust. Of course, everybody thinks he’s a little nuts because Viola honestly has no clue what the hell he’s talking about. Both Orsino and Antonio claim to have been with “Viola” for the last 3 months.

Olivia arrives and once again refuses Orsino’s advances. To make matters worse, she hits on ‘Cesario’ who she thinks she just married an act ago. When Viola says she plans on following the person she loves, Orsino, Olivia accuses her ‘husband’ of being unfaithful. Viola denies it, of course, but just then – by total coincidence – the priest comes in and backs Olivia.

Moments later, Aguecheek comes in asking for a doctor for Sir Toby who was just injured by ‘Cesario.’ More confusion as Aguecheek blames Viola for Sebastian’s actions. As Belch and his buddies are lead out, Sebastian walks on stage. Finally we have both siblings on-stage at once! Olivia seems particularly happy at the prospect of two Cesario’s: “Most wonderful!” I’ll let you finish the porn joke in whatever way seems best to you.

Sebastian and Viola tease out the moment where they finally admit that they’re brother and sister and that, strangely, all of this is totally okay in the end. Olivia is just as happy with Sebastian, Sebastian is all too happy with Olivia’s money; Viola finally gets to have Orsino, who now seems perfectly happy to give up his hot widow for woman he has spent the entire play confusing for a boy. This will make for some interesting swinger parties.

There are a few other loose ends to warp up. They read Malvolio’s letter and realise that maybe he’s not nuts so they may as well let him out of the asylum. Malvolio accuses Olivia of having toyed with him but Olivia denies that she had anything to do with it. Malvolio swears vengeance. I imagine everybody just laughs.

We also learn that Sir Toby and Maria are getting married but I’m sure they won’t be invited to the swinger party.

And then there’s a little N.K.O.T.B.

The inspiration for Act V.
The inspiration for Act V.

 

If you have any suggestions for which speeches you would like us to revisit, now’s the time as next week is the Twelfth Night speeches podcast!

Sonnet 27 read by sonneteer Hannah Dorozio.

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BB: Twelfth Night, Act IV

Artwork - Stephanie E.M. Coleman
Artwork – Stephanie E.M. Coleman

“This is the air, that is the glorious sun, this pearl she gave me, I do feel’t and see’t…” IV,iii Sebastian.

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What do NKOTB and The Neverending Story and Crowded House have to do with Twelfth Night? You’ll have to listen to the next two acts find out!

Welcome Brawlers to act IV of Twelfth Night.

Before everything untangles itself, Shakespeare’s going to up the ante and string us along for another act of mistaken identities and practical jokes.

Cesario (Viola in what has to be one hell of a disguise), is mistaken for Sebastian (Viola’s mystically identical twin brother) by Antonio at the end of act III. In act IV, scene 1, it’s Sebastian’s turn to be confused for Cesario. Feste mistakes him for Sebastian and only leaves after Sebastian gives him some cash. Then, Sir Toby, Fabian and Andrew Aguecheek come on stage, planning to attack the defenseless Cesario but they are beaten by Sebastian who, unlike Viola, is an able swordsman. Olivia shows up, breaks up the fight and invites Sebastian in thinking that she has finally managed to win over Cesario.

Confused yet? You shouldn’t be – I’m sure you’ve had all the practice tracking disguises when you listened to our The Taming of the Shrew Brawl.

Sebastian has never seen Olivia in his life but figures, what the hell? How often does a beautiful, rich widow throw herself at you and offer to give you everything she has? Seems like the natural thing to do. (I’m told it happens to Daniel all the time.)

If it helps, this is a composite image of the Olivia Shakespeare probably had in mind:

Olivia Wilde

While Sebastian follows Olivia Wilde out of her garden and into her sex den house, Maria, Sir Toby and Feste decide that they’re going to spend scene 2 messing with Malvolio. They dress Feste up as a priest who is visiting ‘Malvolio the Lunatic’ to exorcise his demons. They taunt him and toy with him until Sir Toby calls off the prank. He’s afraid that his niece Olivia will get mad at him if he pushes the joke too far. At the end of the act, Malvolio calls for some pen and paper – he means to write a letter proving that he’s not crazy.

The third scene is very short. It’s the marriage of Sebastian and Olivia. I’m not sure how this is supposed to work. Olivia thinks she’s marrying Cesario, Sebastian has no clue who he’s marrying but she’s clearly hot and has a lot of money. (See picture of Shakespeare’s inspiration above if you don’t believe me.) They don’t even have each other’s identities sorted out.

Unless they learn to communicate, I can’t see how this is going to work for either of them.

Join us next week for the final act!

Though you’re far away, you’re near in our hearts Zoey Baldwin here reading sonnet 29.

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BB: Twelfth Night, Act III

Artwork - Leigh MacRae
Artwork – Leigh MacRae

“… he is a devil in private brawl,” – Sir Toby Belch, III, iv.

Sir Toby may claim that Andrew Aguecheek is deadly beast behind closed doors and man to man, but we prefer to hold our Brawl in public and en masse!

Welcome back to the Bard Brawl and our latest episode, act III of Twelfth Night!

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As it’s been a while, you might also want to revisit our last episode to get into the swing of things.

Apologies for the delay in getting this episode up but a few of the Brawlers have been involved in some moving. Daniel and Stephanie have finally settled into their new place, meaning that “Studio BB” will be back in business shortly to record acts IV and V.

Sadly, this will be the last episode to feature Zoey and Second Jay as they have left Montreal of the California sun. Sad. We wish them all the best and hope they’ll come visit us soon.

Right. Let’s get back into it, shall we?

Viola (still in disguise as Cesario, of course) is waiting outside of Olivia’s house at the start of act III. She is waiting to be admitted with yet another suit from Orsino and is engaged in a witty exchange by Feste, the clown. The two exchange a bunch of jokes about husbands being fools, words being whored out through misuse and overuse, with some punning about the young Cesario ‘wanting’ a beard thrown in for good measure: The beard she ‘wants’ is attached to Orsino’s face, get it?

While she waits, Andrew Aguecheek and Sir Toby arrive and invite Viola in. Before they can enter, however, Olivia meets with them and is left alone with ‘Cesario.’ Olivia is enraptured by ‘Cesario’ and tries to get him to drop his suit on behalf of wooing for himself. She confesses to the ploy with the ring intended to get Cesario back here but Viola doesn’t bite. Viola says ‘Cesario’ won’t return given that it will be impossible to convince Olivia to love Orsino but Olivia ask that Cesario return anyhow, ‘just in case’ he might be able to convince her somehow…

It seems the Aguecheek saw the whole exchange between Cesario and Olivia in the garden and has decided, at the start of scene 2, that he has no chance with Olivia and should probably just leave. Fabian and Sir Toby convince him that what he needs to do is demonstrate his valour by challenging Cesario to a duel. Sir Toby asks him to write a challenge letter which he will deliver to Cesario. Seems like this is another prank and Sir Aguecheek just another fool. Maria arrives and informs that Malvolio’s all dressed up and ready to make a fool of himself.

Antonio catches up to Sebastian on his way to Illyria in scene 3. Despite the danger to himself, Antonio is moved to help Sebastian. We find out that the reason Antonio is a wanted man is because he stole from Orsino and was recognised in fleeing. He hands Sebastian some money and agrees to meet him at an inn called ‘The Elephant.’

Scene 4 is a monster of a scene, with a lot going on.

As the scene starts, Olivia is waiting impatiently for Malvolio. He arrives dressed as the letter suggested, with his bright yellow stocking, cross-gartered. Olivia immediately assumes he’s lost his mind and ask him to go to bed… which of course he takes as an invitation. He starts quoting bits of the letter as he kisses Olivia’s hand. She, of course, has no idea what the hell he’s talking about.

When Cesario is announced, Olivia asks Maria and Sir Toby to take care of the maddened Malvolio. Malvolio, though, assumes that this is just a test and that he’s supposed to exercise his ‘new authority’ over Sir Toby. They toy with him a bit and when Malvolio walks off, they decide to ties him up and put him in a dark room. Sir Andrew then arrives with his challenge letter. As it is a letter which would betray that Aguecheek is a moron, Sir Toby decides to deliver the challenge to Cesario himself, in his own words.

Olivia and Cesario are in the garden replaying the same scene: Olivia trying to convince Cesario to love her, Cesario trying to convince Olivia to love Orsino. When they take their leave, Sir Toby approaches Cesario and issues Aguecheek’s challenge. Of course, Viola is ignorant of any offense she might have given Aguecheek so she asks Sir Toby to find out what exactly Aguecheek is accusing her of. She asks Fabian about Aguecheek cheek and he describes him as a dangerous and skillful warrior. Sir Toby gives basically the same description of Cesario. While both of the combatants hope the combat will be avoided, Sir Toby manipulates them into it and they are interrupted by Antonio as they draw their swords. He has clearly confused Viola for Sebastian. (The impossible identical twins, remember?)

Moments later, some officers arrive and arrest Antonio. Thinking that he’s speaking with Sebastian, Antonio asks for his money back to bail him out of this mess. Viola denies having the money but offers half of what she has to help him. Antonio is incensed that ‘Sebastian’ has denied him but he is taken away by the guards. Viola slips away with Andrew Aguecheek and the others giving chase.

Cue Benny Hill theme song.

Who will be Zoey and Jay’s successors? You’ll have to listen to act IV to find out.

Sonnet 42 read by Jack Konorska.

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BB: Twelfth Night, Act II

Artwork - Leigh MacRae
Artwork – Leigh MacRae

Welcome back brawlers to the Bard Brawl. This week we continue with act II of Twelfth Night.

Listen to or download the podcast.

In the first act of the play, Viola disguises herself as Cesario, the young eunuch page in service to Orsino. Olivia has continued to refuse his advances but though better of his envoy, Cesario. A bit of a problem for everyone involved in that scenario…

Oh, but what do we have here at the start of act II? Why, a young man, washed up on the shore, who bears a striking resemblance to Viola in her Cesario disguise? Hmm… wonder where Shakespeare’s going with that. Anyhow, this is Viola’s brother Sebastian who she thinks is dead but who is – as we can see – very much alive. He was found washed ashore by this Antonio fellow. Sebastian decides that he’ll seek out Orsino (presumably to figure out a way home) and, despite having enemies in Orsino’s court, Antonio is moved by his love for the young man and decides to follow him anyway.

Malvolio, whom Olivia had sent after Cesario, catches up her in scene 2 and gives her a ring. When Viola tries to turn down the ring because it is not hers, Malvolio insists that not only is it her ring but that she threw at Olivia. Malvolio drops the thing on the ground and leaves. This is where Viola realises that maybe her disguise was a little too good. Ooops.

We return to Olivia’s house for scene 3 where Toby Belch, Sir Andrew and Feste the clown are singing, drinking and generally making a racket. Maria comes to tell them to quiet down nut the noise brings Malvolio. He immediately tells Sir Toby that he is only welcome here if he can check his excesses at the door. Sir Toby’s response? Something along the lines of “who the @$&# do you think you are?” He reminds Malvolio that his self-righteous behaviour might make him feel important but he’s still just a twerp. Like my 11 year old niece, Malvolio stomps off to go tell Olivia. They decide that they’ll play a (kind of mean) prank on him to take him down a peg: Maria will forge a fake letter to make Malvolio think that Olivia is in love with him. This is basically going to lead him to make a fool of himself.

This next scene is a little complicated to explain but actually quite simple. Orsino is listening to music when Viola arrives. He notices that ‘Cesario’ seems to be showing the signs that he’s fallen in love. Orsino. Seeing as he can’t feed is own appetite for love, he figures he can at least get some enjoyment
from hearing about ‘Cesario’s’ love interest. Of course, seeing as he is the object of Viola’s love, a lot of his questions are answered with: “she’s kind of a lot like you are. Like exactly.” Orsino says some stuff about how much better men are at love than women but Viola then tells him a story about her ‘sister” unrequited love to show that women love deeper than men. Orsino sends her back to Olivia’s house for more wooing!

The last scene of act II takes place in Olivia’s garden. Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Maria have brought a friend, Fabian, along to watch Malvolio make a fool of himself. They all hide in the bushes. Malvolio walks on the stage talking to himself about how great it would be to be a count. He starts thinking of precedents to ladies marrying underlings. He imagines kicking Sir Toby out, having the run of the house. Eventually, he finds the letter written by Maria. Of course, he decides to read it aloud and describe his thoughts about the cryptic love letter. He ‘brilliantly’ deduces that the letter is written by Olivia and was left there on purpose for him to find it. Emboldened by this letter, he determines to follow its instructions and confess his love to Olivia. Of course, the gawkers chase after him so they won’t miss seeing him be shot down by Olivia.

The letter Malvolio finds mentions that its mysterious author wants to see Malvolio in yellow stocking, “cross-gartered.”

Before the advent of elasticized socks, men wore their socks up to their knees held up by straps or garters. It seems that there were several ways of gartering your socks. The “regular” way would have had the garters running down the side of the leg, parallel to the leg. Cross-gartering instead runs the straps or bands in a criss-cross pattern up the calf and to the knee.

Here’s how that might have looked:

Yellow Stockings, Cross-Gartered

I have no idea just how bad of a fashion faux-pas this would have been in Shakespeare’s day but I’ll take a guess. If we translate that into contemporary terms, the letter might as well have said: “I would really love for you to wear these skin-tight black and fluorescent green bicycle shorts when we go out for brunch with my mother this weekend.”

While I mentioned that Feste is the clown in the play, the real clown – in many ways – is Malvolio. He’s the one everybody’s laughing at. And I’m guessing that Malvolio would have looked just as ridiculous to Shakespeare’s audience as he does to us wearing those bright yellow sock, cross-gartered.

If, like me, you like taking pleasure at the misfortunes of others, you won’t want to miss the next act!

Sonnet 50 read by  sonneteer Erin Marie Byrnes.

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She’s the Man (2006), Andy Fickman (director)

Zoey Baldwin

High school soccer movie She’s the Man’s hardly a match for Twelfth Night.

Twelfth Night, or What You Will—Shakespeare’s hilarious tale of mistaken identity and unrequited love—begins with a shipwreck on the shores of Illyria.

Or, in the case of the 2006 film She’s the Man, on the soccer pitch at Illyria boarding school. No one is presumed dead in this case; Sebastian Hastings (James Kirk (not the captain of NCC-1701-A)) has gone to London to play with his band without his parents’ knowledge.

After the girls soccer team at her school gets cut, his twin sister, Viola (Amanda Bynes), takes this as an opportunity to play soccer on her level—with the boys. And a wig. And a rather unconvincing voice timbre.

Viola hatches the switcharoo idea after her mother, who is dying for a debutante daughter, says, “Sometimes I think you might as well be your brother.” And one gratuitous salon montage underscored with an uppity chick rock cover of “You’re Gonna Make it After All” and complete with stick-on Yosemite Sam moustaches later, Viola sets her plan in action.

She tells each of her conveniently divorced parents she’s at the other’s house, and sets off for Sebastian’s new school. (Of course, this only works because no one at Illyria has met Sebastian yet.)

When Viola starts posing as Sebastian, she suddenly dons an awkward, half-southern accent and saying things like “Word, g-money.” Problems arise when her dreamy roommate, Duke Orsino (Channing Tatum) spots her tampons. To get out of the awkward situation, Viola sticks a tampon up her nose, claiming she uses them for nosebleeds.

Much like the play, Viola and Duke work out an arrangement. Viola will help Duke woo the gorgeous blonde Olivia (Laura Ramsay), and Duke helps Viola improve her soccer skills so she can make first string and kick her ex-boyfriend’s butt in the season opener. Too bad Viola is falling for Duke the whole time, and he thinks she’s her brother. Ruh-roh! Drama, drama, drama, happy ending ensues. I won’t spoil it for you.

There are a number of components in the film that could leave you scratching your head. Tatum’s Duke never seems suspicious that he’s living with a co-ed. I’m willing to suspend disbelief a little bit, but she’s not remotely convincing. The wig isn’t bad, sure, but how do the heart-to-hearts and awkward moments in the locker room not tip Duke off? And how does Olivia not realize she’s flirting with a girl?

As is the case with the original play, there’s no use trying to make sense of how a set of fraternal twins (of opposite genders) would be confused for one another. Or how when Sebastian suddenly returns from London/his watery grave, Olivia has no idea she wasn’t crushing on him all along. And so on.

This is all well and good. The play is not meant to be deep. But though the Bard’s original version is a light romp, it is filled with genuine laughs, pranks and chaos. She’s the Man, on the other hand, relies on kissing booths, debutante balls and chemistry lab partner dynamics. (Yes, Olivia falls for Viola/Sebastian in chemistry. What are the odds of that?!)

 

In addition to a fair dose of cheesiness:

a number of my favorite characters aren’t done their full justice—namely the staff in Olivia’s court like Feste, Maria, and the perpetually drunk Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek. True, in She’s the Man Duke has two teammates named Toby and Andrew, but they are in high school and, sadly, never drunk. (Just kidding! Stay in school, kids.)

We do get a solid dose of Malvolio in Olivia’s obsessive sidekick Malcolm Festes, but we never get to see him in yellow, cross-gartered stockings, which is disappointing. He even has a pet tarantula named Malvolio, which he pretends to lose in an attempt to prevent Viola/Sebastian from hooking up with Olivia.

 

The most famous verses work their way into the film, as expected, but it’s actually the only one that does. “Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them” is used as a cliché line from Duke after Viola’s true identity is revealed in the middle of their season opening soccer game. A bit out of context, if you ask me, considering that we see that line in Malvolio’s big speech when he reads the letter Maria writes to fool him into thinking Olivia holds a torch for him.

You might be asking yourself, why should I support a celebrity who’s spinning off the rails? But people, this is Amanda Bynes pre-bizarre Twitter habits. Whatever she claims has not snapped inside her head definitely hadn’t snapped yet, so this movie’s pretty easy watching.

She was cute once! I promise. Any All That fans out there?

If Bynes’ presence puts you off, perhaps your attention might be redeemed by Channing Tatum’s irresistible charm. Besides Tatum, the only other beacon in the movie is David Cross (Oops. I mean David Cross) as Illyria’s overly friendly headmaster, Horatio Gold. But even an Arrested Development alum can’t fully rescue this awkward, unconvincing adaptation.

Plus, let’s face it, no high school Shakespeare film will ever touch what 10 Things I Hate About You did for The Taming of the Shrew. (Heath Ledger’s adorable serenade of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” is forever burned on my brain.)

She’s the Man is pretty bland. I’d recommend it for sick days, if it comes on TBS or Bravo or something. Don’t go out of your way.

 

 

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