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A few things you should know about Arkangel's 'Twelfth Night'
on 9 December 2009
The Arkangel Shakespeare recordings vary a lot in quality, and this isn't one of the best...unfortunate, as 'Twelfth Night' is one of Shakespeare's most musical plays both in atmosphere and versification, and really needs to be heard aloud.
Viola is one of my favourite female Shakespeare characters (much more likable than the female characters in 'As You Like It', with which this play is often compared) but here is rendered unsympathetically. Olivia is much better acted, and the actress who plays Olivia should probably have been Viola, while the one who played Maria would have made a better Olivia.
The clown sings well, but his voice is wrong - too educated and frigid to evoke a sense of wry, aching melancholy. Sir Toby Belch is particularly annoying - a cackling idiot rather than the Falstaffian scallywag of old. Malvolio is suitably puritanical, more arrogant than in some other versions. His arrogance does make him comical in the scenes where he 'woos' Olivia, and the cellar scene is definitely funny and vivid.