Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Love, Theater, Character, Development, Night, Confusion, Deception, Production

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2021/02/12

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The production that will be reviewed in this discussion is Twelfth Night written by William Shakespeare. The play revolves around love, which encounters a mix-up of identities causing confusion. The director of the play in this context is Cornel Gabara, who is an associate professor of theatre as well as the head of acting at the UT. The play I attended was performed on March 1, from 2.00 p.m. in the Centre Theatre in UT’s Center for Performing Arts within the main campus.
The story of this play, involves a shipwrecked Viola, who worries that Sebastian, her brother, is lost or possibly dead after a shipwreck (Novelguide). She decides to disguise herself as a man so as to find a job which is the beginning of the fun and confusion in the play. She ends up falling in love with her employer, who thinks she is a man. Further confusion arises when a woman also falls in love with her thinking that she is a man due to her disguised appearance.
The play has several themes, and these were presented well in the production. One major theme is the infinite search for love (WestportPlayhouse). This is shown by the fact that the characters of this old play search for love just like people in the present world are doing (Sparknotes). This is represented by Duke Orsino’s desperate efforts to win the love of Olivia yet he keeps getting rejected for each try. Olivia is also in love with Cesario (Viola disguised as a man) and seeks for “his” love, shown by her sending Malvolio to give a ring to Cesario (Novelguide). She even later openly tells him that she loves him. The play also has a theme of how comically deceiving looks can be. This is shown by Olivia falling in love with a woman (Viola disguised as Cesario) thinking that she is a man. The comic deception of appearance is also shown by Sir Toby and Sir Andrew confusing Sebastian for Cesario – with whom they had a fight earlier. This makes them engage Sebastian in a fight thinking that they are actually fighting Cesario due to the great resemblance (Novelguide). Olivia, who arrives later, cannot also tell the difference and even asks Sebastian to marry her, confusing him too. This theme of how comically deceiving appearances can be was well presented (Sparknotes). Last but not least, the play has the theme of change, which Malvolio presents (Sparknotes). Maria forges Olivia’s handwriting and writes Malvolio a letter that makes him believe that Olivia loves him (Novelguide). To win her, he has to follow some instructions in the letter, which make him change his character to an absurd one. For instance, he dresses in an awkward manner and smiles throughout (Novelguide). This change also brings out comical confusion since Olivia is bewildered by his new character and even believes he has gone insane (Novelguide).
The visual effects of the play were authentic. The set design of the stage changed with each scene. For instance, the front of Olivia’s house was made easily identifiable and believable by having flowers grown in large vases. The inside was represented by having furniture and servants serving her (“UT Theatre”). Duke Orsino’s house is also represented the same way. The costumes in the play were well chosen helping to advance the play’s imagery. Since Viola disguises herself as man, the character who played her role dressed accordingly (“UT Theatre”). She wore a man’s trousers, coat, and had a hat making it more believable that she was a man. Her attire also ensured that her breast and long hair were not visible to enhance the image of a man. Malvolio’s costume also stood out at the scene where he follows the aforementioned letter’s instructions. The character who played this role wore a ridiculous jacket, tight yellow stockings, and mismatching yellow garters (“UT Theatre”). This helped the production advance the absurd change in him and the extents to which people would go to obtain love. This also helped to accurately reflect what the original play describes. Fete’s (the clown) costume was a great match for his character, consisting of a ridiculous brightly colored garment to enhance the imagery of his character as fool/clown. However, the clown is dressed like a monk (disguised as Topas the Curate) in the scene where they play a joke on Malvolio (“UT Theatre”). Here, he still advances his character of a clown using a monk’s garment by trying to convince Malvolio to confess that he is insane, yet he is not.
There were additional visual effects used to improve the play. Most lighting was focused on the stage when the characters played a scene, while the rest of the theatre hall was darker. This helped to keep the focus of the audience on the stage. The lighting on the stage would sometimes flicker (“UT Theatre”). This helped to signify a change of scenes. The lighting blinked rapidly with a background roar before Viola and the Captain appeared on stage. This helped to create the imagery that they had experienced a storm before getting on the shore (the stage in this context).While they were on the stage there was a background sound of small waves and birds to create the imagery of a calmed storm. Sound was also used in the play through music. When the character of Feste sang, he expressed melancholy and yearning showing the mood of characters like in the beginning of the play where he sang for Duke Orsino (“UT Theatre”). His singing also heightens the moods of the characters (WestportPlayhouse). At the end of the play, where confusion ends and there is union of people through love, the character who played the role of Feste sang a merry song (“UT Theatre”). The change in the type of music helped to represent a change of emotions by the characters, improving the production.
The performances of the characters were of great quality. They were eloquent in their speech and their tonal variations and facial expressions helped the audience have a better understanding of what was going on. The change of emotions by the actors made them more believable. For instance, when Malvolio was released from the dark room, his appearance and tone of voice expressed well that he had been wronged to a great extent. The sadness that engulfed the character playing Olivia when the real Cesario denied their marriage made it very believable that she had been hurt. The change of scenes was also very clear. This shows that the director and the designer did a thorough preparation.
Most parts of the play were very clear. One clear part was the similarity in the appearance of Cesario and Sebastian making their confusion by other people believable. The themes in different scenes were also clear such as Orsino’s yearning for love, deception of Malvolio, and the elucidation of things at the play’s end (“UT Theatre”). Unclear moments were also present. The use of a language of an earlier time made it harder for the audience to get the humor, being of a different context and generation. Why Feste and Mariah would confess having mistreated Malvolio without anyone forcing them to was/is also unclear since people usually hide their wrongdoings.
In conclusion the production of Twelfth night was great and represented the playwright’s ideas very well. This was through eloquence, excellent expression of emotions, and commendable visual effects. This helped express the original play’s themes of a comical search for love, change, and deception of appearances in a pleasant manner. I would therefore recommend other productions to follow this wonderful example.

Work Cited

Novelguide,. 'Twelfth Night: Theme Analysis | Novelguide'. Novelguide. N.p., 2015. Web. 11 Apr. 2015. <http://www.novelguide.com/twelfth-night/theme-analysis>
Sparknotes,. 'Sparknotes: Twelfth Night: Themes, Motifs & Symbols'. Sparknotes.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 11 Apr. 2015. <http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/twelfthnight/themes.html>
WestportPlayhouse,. 'Twelfth Night An Introduction'. YouTube. N.p., 2015. Web. 11 Apr. 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vO482XWKvY
UT Theatre Dpartment. “Twelfth Night,” 2015. Theatre.

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