Wednesday, June 24, 2009

12th Night: The Best

I have wondered and continue to wonder as 12th night rolls on... what does Shakespeare think about relationships and marriage in particular? Clearly marriage makes everyone happy at the end of the play. But Feste: "She has no folly. She will keep no fool until she be married."

In the last song, "When I came alas to wife, with hey ho the wind and the rain, with swaggering I could never thrive..."

I relish Raul Esparza's delivery of Orsinio's line: "For I myself am best when in least company." For the past few shows it has come across a little embarassed, but also proud, as if he is revealing a superpower that he knows no one can appreciate because they are simply not there when it reveals its force.

I want to know how a woman could love with a guy like that, partly because I want to know better the woman who sleeps down the hall from me as I write. Part of me is always, for better or worse, unavailable. And the unavailable part is the part that Orsinio says is his "best". Even if no one around him agrees that the best of the Duke unfolds in their absence, this is what he thinks. It is this image of himself that is affecting his reality, and this has to be okay with her.

I love the scene in Act 1 when Cesario/Viola listens to Orsinio go on about what Olivia must be told about his love. I love the scene because at this point the audience knows Viola loves Orsinio, and we see them as they cannot: as a woman and a man communicating to one another. Viola speaks out of love to the man in front of her who is too absorbed in his ideas of his romantic ambitions to see things for what they are. You get the feeling that Cesario could be a woman at this point and Orsinio still would not see. Do we think that part of this not seeing is also part of his attractiveness to her? Is it just me or is Shakespeare rocking some serious relationship dynamics here?

My drummer character in 12th Night is fucked up by what happens in the first minute of the play until he hears Orsinio talk romatically about Olivia's mourning. At that point, the drummer sees in Orsinio the things that Viola will: a guy in need of saving from his own indulgences. Maybe its true that our best comes when we're alone. I certainly can't write with anyone in the room.

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