The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2597  Wednesday, 14 November 2001

From:           Thomas Larque <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 13 Nov 2001 15:33:38 -0000
Subject: 12.2595 Re: "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2595 Re: "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night

>Nevertheless, I've always felt that the audience must have been
>delighted and amused at Shakespeare's manipulations of the dramatic
>irony inherent in the situation. Doubly so because of the gender of the
>actors. "Most wonderful" is not only an expression of Olivia's feelings,
>whatever they may be, but equally a direct address to the audience, made
>comic by our awareness of costumes' abilities to switch genders.

One point that I'd be interested to hear discussed is whether costume
would also be the main contributor to Viola and Sebastian's twinning.
In other words, do people think that Shakespeare's Company might have
had access to real twin boy actors? (or more than one pair to satisfy
the multiple twinnings in "Comedy of Errors").  I suppose that it is
probably more likely that the actors simply looked alike, or were made
to look alike, as in most modern productions.

Has anybody ever seen "Twelfth Night" or "Comedy of Errors" performed by
real twins?  I imagine that a pair of female twins might be particularly
effective as Viola and Sebastian (and would cause less confusion in the
audience than male twins, since audiences seem to accept women playing
men - in the pantomime Prince Charming tradition - more easily than they
accept men playing women, which is often interpreted by the audience as
comical or homosexual).

Thomas Larque.
"Shakespeare and His Critics"

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