Twelfth Night: Arkangel Shakespeare Audible Audiobook – Original recording
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Shakespeare's most sophisticated comedy is a riotous tale of hopelessly unrequited passions and mistaken identity. Duke Orsino is in love with the noblewoman Olivia. She, however, has fallen for his servant Cesario, who is actually Viola, a woman disguised as a man, who loves Orsino: Confusion is rife. Meanwhile, Olivia's arrogant steward Malvolio is cruelly tricked by her uncle Sir Toby Belch, his friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and the maidservant Maria into believing his mistress loves him.
Niamh Cusack is Viola, Jonathan Firth is Orsino, Amanda Root plays Olivia, Dinsdale Landen plays Sir Toby Belch, and Julian Glover is Malvolio.
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|Listening Length||2 hours and 11 minutes|
|Narrator||Niamh Cusack, Jonathan Firth, Amanda Root, Dinsdale Landen, Julian Glover|
|Audible.com Release Date||May 09, 2014|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #44,917 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#8 in Ancient, Classical & Medieval Drama
#27 in Shakespeare Plays
#49 in Ancient & Classical Dramas & Plays
Reviewed in the United States on March 8, 2021
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Initially, it showed promise: a rollicking comedy of errors with the Count Orsino intent upon wooing Lady Olivia, who instead falls for the cross-dressing Viola, who is doing the wooing on Orsino's behalf and who herself is infatuated with Orsino! Things become all the more involved when Viola's recently ship-wrecked twin brother Sebastian arrives and Olivia confuses him for the man she thought was Viola! This plotline was truly entertaining, yet another Shakespearian triumph in ingenuity. Unfortunately, while this was probably supposed to be the center of the story, a great deal of the play also revolves around Olivia's drunken uncle Toby, her mischievous chambermaid Maria, her idiotic suitor Andrew and Feste, her fool. These were also quite riveting characters in their own way, but to me it seems rather unusual that they should have so many lines, while poor old lovelorn Orsino has so few. I would have liked to have seen him recite more amazing lines as he did early in the first scene ("If music be the food of love...") His character did not lack depth in my opinion, only development. I would have also liked to hear more from Viola as herself, rather than as the man she pretended to be. And the conclusion, while it did tie together the loose ends seemed rather hasty. But, alas, who am I to critique Bill Shakespeare?!
Taken in isolation, I would say this play was nevertheless quite absorbing and well worth reading! But taken in conjunction with his other plays, I would not rank this at the very top.
The twins Viola and Sebastian are parallels to Olivia's love story in certain ways. Ship-wrecked on Ilyria, the twins believe each other has been drowned. In her attempt to survive, Viola disguises herself as a young man and becomes servant to Orsino, who immediately likes his young page Cesario. Cesario (Viola)quickly becomes a confidant to Orsino, who sends Cesario off to woo Olivia for him. Olivia falls for Cesario and eventually wants to wed him. The plot develops as the love story switches gears.
Another great character is Feste, the fool, whose role in court is to speak the truth without repercussions. His ridiculous superficial words belie his shrewdness. Characters who tolerate the fool are the good characters (like Olivia) and those who do not are villains (like Malvolio). But Shakespeare doesn't allow Malvolio to be a stock character. When he is the victim of horrendous pranks, Olivia and the audience feel sorrow for his belittlement. Feste is the final speaker of the play, and his poignant words reveal a measured, mature picture of life which is anything but simple. We are encouraged to live life fully and to enjoy it.
It is Shakespeare so of course there is ingenious wordplay, witticisms, etc. The character of the fool is particularly well drawn in Twelfth Night. He seems cleverer by half than the assorted aristocracy.
However, most of the modern focus in Twelfth Night is because one of its main female protagonists disguises herself as a man, falls in love with a man and has a woman, who falls for the disguise, fall in love with her. This is all supposed to be very germane to modern gender studies/issues.
I am not convinced Shakespeare really says much of relevance to contemporary cultural concerns but I am not an expert. These just don’t seem to me, as they do to other commentators, central to the play.
What I found is another masterpiece of Shakespearean comedy. One can almost be forgetful of how lucky we are that Shakespeare wrote so many even if they do seem to revolve around similar plot conceits. Highly recommended (although it hardly needs another recommendation).
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She loves the style and layout of this particular publisher.
Having tried various other publications she found them to be a little confusing and disorganised due to the layout and lack of spacing.
This version allows her space to write her own notes plus there is a clear visual definition between each speaking character, making it much easier and clearer to pick out specific parts.
In her opinion this is a fantastic must have for English Literature at A Level.
The enchanting story of Viola dressed as the page Cesario, with whom both Orsino and Orsino's erstwhile object of desire fall in love, is filled with rapturous poetry that articulates love, desire and romantic melancholy. But these central relationships are modulated by Malvolio's desire for his mistress Olivia, the bawdy comedy of Sir Toby Belch, and Antonio's unrequited desire for Viola's twin, Sebastian.
Ultimately social harmony is restored - but the portrait of Malvolio gives us an insight, perhaps, into how characters such as Edmund in King Lear, and Iago are created.
So a sunny, feel-good romantic comedy, but shaded lightly by a darker tinge.
Being only second series, it does suffer from a slightly confusing layout in comparison to the third series (Twelfth Night 3rd Edition being released in Winter 2007), however, it still has an awesome in-depth analysis of the play text, and a very interesting 100page essay at the start to give an overview of the play which provides choices for the actor, or ideas for the essay-writer.
Definately worth a buy.