Back in the Stratford Season, 2017. I went to Twelfth Night yesterday, directed by Martha Henry. Oh my, how the yeas go by. I saw Martha play Viola/Caesario, how many hears ago? I'll have to look it up. I think her twin, Sebastian, was played by Richard Monette, bt I'll have to look that up, too. I do remember how much they looked alike with their pageboy hair style. And as always I loved the double takes as people tried to reconcile themselves with not one, but two, two, identical twins.
This year the twins are black, not only in Canada but also in England. I saw the National Theatre production of Twelfth Night just twenty-two days ago in a National Theatre televised live production. I enjoyed both of them but I liked the Stratford one better, even though the English one has for the first time to my knowledge, a Malvoli-A, a female beleaguered creature (Malvolio) punished beyond deserts for his/her arrogance and presumption. His/her abuse is my un-favourite sequence in Shakespeare's plays. On the other hand, the recognition scene near the end is one of my favourites.
It was a good idea to cast a female in the role but given that license, the director (or someone?) went on to push her "freedom" beyond the limits of rational behaviour. Cross-gartered yellow stockings, fair enough, but twirlers on her nipples? (Battery operated, at that) Too much! Instead, in the Stratford Twelfth Night, we had the staid, anal-obsessive Malvolio that we are used to.
So it was a comfortable production, distinctive only because the twins are black. They were delightful. I do like colour-blind casting, especially when the DNA matches.