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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Twelfth Night (1969)

After being shipwrecked on a foreign shore, a young woman (Joan Plowright) disguises herself as a male and enters the service of a Duke (Gary Raymond), who sends her to plead his case as a suitor to the grieving Olivia (Adrienne Corri). Things become complicated when Plowright in her male trappings falls for the Duke while Olivia falls for Plowright in her male guise. Arguably the greatest of Shakespeare's comedies, this production as directed by John Sichel receives a robust treatment albeit stagebound. The mistaken identities and confusion between Viola (as Cesario) and Sebastian has always required a suspension of belief as they are normally played by two different actors. Here, Joan Plowright plays both sister and brother (and very well) so no suspension of belief is required. If Alec Guinness as Malvolio is too restrained to get the laughs he should, there's no such timidity from Ralph Richardson who milks Sir Toby Belch for every chuckle. John Moffat makes for a splendid dolt as Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Sheila Reid is a spunky Maria. Understandably, Tommy Steele seems a mite uncomfortable as Feste, the fool. There has been some minor editing of the Shakespeare text, however.

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