Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Twelfth Night: These aren't the MOAIs you're looking for . . .

Twelfth Night
. Dir. John Sichel. Perf. Alec Guinness, Joan Plowright, Tommy Steele, Ralph Richardson, John Moffatt, Gary Raymond, and Adrienne Corri. ITV Sunday Night Theatre. 12 July, 1970. DVD. 
Koch Vision, 2008.
The University of Northwestern—St. Paul is mounting a production of Twelfth Night this year (get your tickets here!), and I've been brushing up on the play in preparation.

I used to think the play was dull (I blame the 1996 film directed by Trevor Nunn for that), but I've come around to realizing that there's an awful lot that is supremely brilliant about the play—if only it can be performed supremely brilliantly (as it was, just by the way, by the Great River Shakespeare Festival in 2013—for which, q.v.).

But I suppose that I digress.

I don't know that the John Sichel film is brilliant, but it is enjoyable. Joan Plowright plays both Viola and Sebastian—I suppose to make the "twin" schtick more plausible—and she does credit to them both.  Sir Ralph Richardson is our Sir Toby, and a memorable one he is. And, of course, we have Obi Wan Kenobi (hence the title of this post) as Malvolio.

Of course, it's Alec Guinness, and he does a great job of underplaying without eliminating the nastiness of Malvolio and being angry at the end without becoming volatile.

But, in the words of the immortal LeVar Burton, "You don't have to take my word for it." Here's the play's trickery scene. Note how Guinness enables us to see what he has in his mind's eye:

It's quite good. There's not much that's flashy or fast-paced (I'd prefer a bit more of that, frankly) but it's solid and interesting.

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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