Shakespeare’s The Twelfth Night – The Young Vic

“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” 
― 
William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

To say the adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedic theatrical tale was ‘great’ would be an absolute understatement. I must say, when I first realised that the play was completely dialogued in Shakespearean language I felt like I might pull a sicky and give it a miss. But thankfully my ignorance subsided and I opened my eyes and ears to what was a truly a totally triumphant re-telling of the famous playwright’s piece.

The Title’s Significance

Anyone (myself included) who may not be 100% familiar with this play would feel enlightened by knowing that it gets its title –  ‘The Twelfth Night’ by bearing reference to the ‘twelfth night’ after Christmas day, which in some stems of Christianity marks the day of the ‘Epiphany’. The ‘Epiphany’ being a day to celebrate the visit of the three wise men to baby Jesus and Jesus’ baptism.

It is celebrated with feasting and festivities, parallels of which were seen in the opening scenes of the play performed by the energetic cast last night. Where they interacted  with audience members while dressed up as if attending a carnival street party.

 The Backstory

Perhaps a lesser known story than the likes of Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth, but with no less of an impact in my opinion after watching the brilliant performance at The Young Vic theatre in London. Shakespeare’s comedic take on a rather peculiar love triangle or shall I say love pentagon, or octagon for the number of lovers involved is injected with diversity and vitality on the Southwark stage. And I highly recommend you see it or watch it online.

The Twelfth Night adapted by Kwame Kwei-Armah starring Gabrielle Brooks performed by The Young Vic Theatre

In simple terms the plot focuses around 3 people (sorry all other cast members, you were great but these 3 were the main characters I feel) Olivia, Orsino and Cesario(Viola).

1) Orsino fancies Olivia.

2)Olivia wants to shack up with Cesario (Orsino’s servant, who Olivia thinks is a man but is actually a woman – Viola).

3)Cesario eventually reveals her true identity and in doing so has Orsino panging after her, who no longer fancies Olivia.

What a romantic rollercoaster, which sounds more like teenage texting than Shakespeare scripting, but believe me the plot is more rich than I’m leading you to believe. And with Kwame Kwei-Armah heading up the director’s front of this stunning adaptation you know you’re in for a real treat.

The story unfolds in such an engaging and dynamic manner. No sooner is one part of the cast breaking into song and dance, than are the rugs being pulled from under our feet as we’re floored by the contrasting poignant emotional moments of the main characters soliloquy’s. I loved all actors of the play but to me Cesario, played by Gabrielle Brooks was an absolute show-stealer of a performer. Her vocals are incredible, so good is she live that I thought ‘you must be miming’, but oh no, certainly not. And as if her singing wasn’t stunning enough, her acting was as equally spellbinding.

So what exactly was my purpose for this post

1) To share an ‘epiphany’ of my own – don’t be too quick to assume! I assumed I wouldn’t be able t understand a word of the show but in actual fact it made me want to incorporate some Shakespeare lingo into thine own prose.

2) To give The Young Vic Theatre a massive shout out, don’t for a second believe the plays are half-assed productions performed by some angsty hormonal teens. The talent seen on stage last night would make any of their mothers shed a tear of pride if sat in the audience. For I almost did! The cast was exceptional and so too were the sound engineers and backstage teams to coordinate such an effortlessly stunning production, Shakespeare would be proud I’m sure!

3) Musical Theatre as a whole should be praised, it’s one thing to act, sing or dance in front of a camera where you can do re-takes but to act, sing AND dance on a live stage with no retake deserves a massive amount of praise.

Thank you Young Vic Theatre for this show, it actually made me want to watch another theatre performance more so than the West End has done!

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