The Company

"Twelfth Night (or What You Will)" by William Shakespeare

14th — 17th June 2017

If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.

In a time of war, peace sometimes breaks out! The Twentieth Century Mediterranean was a place of mistrust and political turmoil. In this time and place a tempest wrecks a ship. Viola and her twin, Sebastian, are trying to find peace after the death of their father but are cruelly separated in the storm, and each believes the other dead. Stranded in a hostile place, Illyria, Viola disguises herself as a man, Cesario. The times are dangerous for an unaccompanied woman. She discovers that Orsino, the local power loves the Lady Olivia. Olivia is mourning the loss of her father too and very suddenly her brother dies leaving her bereft; she chooses to cloister herself and admit no one to her. Viola decides to follow Orsino as his page and do his bidding but Viola loves Orsino. And in her embassy to Olivia she charms the lady and Olivia is in Love with Cesario! How will this Love triangle end?

The play was written in around 1601 in the aftermath of the Essex rebellion and a year or so after the failed second Spanish Armada. The State of England was in question. Elizabeth was getting older with no heir and the Political machinations of the English Catholics were becoming stronger. For Shakespeare the times were dangerous and life was short: his contemporaries were often in trouble for sedition and Christopher Marlowe was ‘killed in a brawl’ over a bill.