Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
(Folger Shakespeare Library)

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Synopsis

"Twelfth Night" is the story of Orsino, a nobleman in the kingdom if Illyria. Following a shipwreck Orsino employs Viola, who when abandoned by the shipwreck disguises herself as a man named Cesario. Soon Viola falls in love with Orsino, however Orsino is in love with Lady Olivia who has fallen for Viola, believing her to be a man. "Twelfth Night" is a classic Shakespearean comedy of mistaken identities.
 

About William Shakespeare

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William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616 Although there are many myths and mysteries surrounding William Shakespeare, a great deal is actually known about his life. He was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, son of John Shakespeare, a prosperous merchant and local politician and Mary Arden, who had the wealth to send their oldest son to Stratford Grammar School. At 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, the 27-year-old daughter of a local farmer, and they had their first daughter six months later. He probably developed an interest in theatre by watching plays performed by traveling players in Stratford while still in his youth. Some time before 1592, he left his family to take up residence in London, where he began acting and writing plays and poetry. By 1594 Shakespeare had become a member and part owner of an acting company called The Lord Chamberlain's Men, where he soon became the company's principal playwright. His plays enjoyed great popularity and high critical acclaim in the newly built Globe Theatre. It was through his popularity that the troupe gained the attention of the new king, James I, who appointed them the King's Players in 1603. Before retiring to Stratford in 1613, after the Globe burned down, he wrote more than three dozen plays (that we are sure of) and more than 150 sonnets. He was celebrated by Ben Jonson, one of the leading playwrights of the day, as a writer who would be "not for an age, but for all time," a prediction that has proved to be true. Today, Shakespeare towers over all other English writers and has few rivals in any language. His genius and creativity continue to astound scholars, and his plays continue to delight audiences. Many have served as the basis for operas, ballets, musical compositions, and films. While Jonson and other writers labored over their plays, Shakespeare seems to have had the ability to turn out work of exceptionally high caliber at an amazing speed. At the height of his career, he wrote an average of two plays a year as well as dozens of poems, songs, and possibly even verses for tombstones and heraldic shields, all while he continued to act in the plays performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men. This staggering output is even more impressive when one considers its variety. Except for the English history plays, he never wrote the same kind of play twice. He seems to have had a good deal of fun in trying his hand at every kind of play. Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets, all published on 1609, most of which were dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothsley, The Earl of Southhampton. He also wrote 13 comedies, 13 histories, 6 tragedies, and 4 tragecomedies. He died at Stratford-upon-Avon April 23, 1616, and was buried two days later on the grounds of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. His cause of death was unknown, but it is surmised that he knew he was dying.
 
Published April 1, 1998 by Signet. 264 pages
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Unrated Critic Reviews for Twelfth Night

BC Books

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The opening of a new theatre is something to celebrate, and Julia Rodriguez-Elliot and her husband Jeff Elliot have succeeded where others have failed.

Nov 02 2011 | Read Full Review of Twelfth Night (Folger Shakesp...

The Washington Post

The efforts of van Griethuysen and King and many others in the cast -- from Rick Foucheux's poisonous Toby Belch to Christopher Innvar's dapper Orsino -- help an audience understand why "Twelfth Night" is one of Shakespeare's greatest comedies, a beguiling play about sexual identity and self-delu...

Dec 11 2008 | Read Full Review of Twelfth Night (Folger Shakesp...

Denver Post

The first act isn't quite as taut as Act II, in part because the audience should be moved by — not merely superior to — all the unmet desire.

May 11 2012 | Read Full Review of Twelfth Night (Folger Shakesp...

Chicago Tribune

Speaking of love — the lost variety — I also caught director John Langs' well-acted indoor production of David Hare's "Skylight," an intellectually nutritious if rather depressing play about the meeting of two old lovers (played by Greta Wohlrabe and Brian Mani) whose lives have taken them in opp...

Aug 01 2012 | Read Full Review of Twelfth Night (Folger Shakesp...

The New York Review of Books

So, in Shakespeare’s play, a man plays a girl pretending to be a man, a lover takes perverse amorous satisfaction in unrequited love, identical twins are confused, a belligerent nitwit assumes he is so attractive that a countess will marry him, a servant imagines he is worthy of being made a nobl...

Jan 06 2014 | Read Full Review of Twelfth Night (Folger Shakesp...

Project MUSE

As with many of Shakespeare's plays, the sources of Twelfth.

Sep 29 2014 | Read Full Review of Twelfth Night (Folger Shakesp...

http://allreaders.com

The play centers on the characters Orsino, Duke of Illyria, and the woman he believes he is in love with, Olivia, who is “a rich countess.” After a shipwreck, the  ...

Sep 29 2014 | Read Full Review of Twelfth Night (Folger Shakesp...

Daily Camera

Shakespeare used the conceit of cross-dressing mistaken identity in a handful of plays he wrote, and it may be most successful in "Twelfth Night," the story of shipwrecked Viola (Kate Berry), who dresses as a boy to serve Orsino (Geoffrey Kent), the Duke of the Illyria, where the play is set.

Jun 14 2012 | Read Full Review of Twelfth Night (Folger Shakesp...

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