Twelfth Night: Performed by Jonathan Firth & Cast (Arkangel)

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9780140867787: Twelfth Night: Performed by Jonathan Firth & Cast (Arkangel)

The complete plays of Shakespeare are now available in brand-new, unabridged, and fully dramatized productions by Great Britain's finest actors

The voices of many of the most distinguished actors presently performing in the British theater are captured in the Arkangel Shakespeare, one of the most ambitious undertakings in recent recording history. These fully dramatized, unabridged, and entirely new productions encompass all thirty-eight of Shakespeare's plays. Each accompanied by original music and uses the uncut text of the Pelican Shakespeare series. This season Penguin Audiobooks is pleased to present the first seven plays in this fitting tribute to the Bard of Avon at the end of a millennium that has yet to surpass his creative genius.

"If music be the food of love, play on...". So begins this romantic comedy of mistaken identities and crossed signals. Duke Orsino loves Olivia. But Viola, dressed as the Duke's male servant Cesario, loves Orsino. And hapless Malvolio, tricked by Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek, loves his mistress Olivia. Confusion reigns, and the stage is set for hilarity. The cast includes Niamh Cusack (Viola), Jonathan Firth (Orsino), Amanda Root (Olivia) and Julian Glover (Malvolio).

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Product Description:

The tale of Sebastian and Viola, twins who are separated when they are shipwrecked off the coast of Illyria. Viola assumes another identity in order to take up service as a page boy, while Sebastian is saved by Antonio.

Review:

One of Shakespeare's finest comedies, Twelfth Night, was written at the same time as Hamlet and Troilus and Cressida, and while it shares their fascination with sex, death and confused identities, its exuberant comedy and linguistic inventiveness rises above the introspection of these plays. Viola and her twin brother Sebastian are separated in a storm that washes them both up at different points on the shores of Illyria. Believing each other to be dead, both attempt to survive by using their wits. Viola cross-dresses and enters the service of the lovesick Orsino, in love with Olivia, an heiress in mourning for the loss of her brother. Orsino's saucy young page Cesario (Viola) soon falls in love with "his" master, who tells "him", "all is semblative a woman's part". Unfortunately, while Viola falls in love with Orsino, Olivia falls in love with her alter ego, Cesario, while also being pursued at the same time by her pompous servant Malvolio. Olivia's house is also turned upside down by the antics of her drunker uncle, Sir Toby Belch, and the whole crazy situation reaches boiling point when Sebastian reappears.

Despite the madcap plot, Twelfth Night remains one of Shakespeare's most complex and inventive comedies, fascinated with questions of cross-dressing, gender confusion, language and inversion, as well as retaining a darker edge to some of its laughter. --Jerry Brotton

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Shakespeare, William
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