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Customer reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
Shakespeare: Twelfth Night (Globe on Screen) [DVD] [2013] [NTSC]
Format: DVD|Change
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on 1 October 2013
I was looking forward to receiving this DVD as I had not been able to get to The Globe to see it, but was exceedingly annoyed and very disappointed to find the DVD in black and white! Why?! Performances, speeches, etc all very fine and OK, but it was just like watching a very old film.
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on 6 July 2013
I've seen this production twice, now: once live on stage, and once at my local cinema. Now I'm waiting for the DVD so I can see it again. It's that good.

This is an all-male production, which harks back to the original Tudor theatre; which goes some way to explain why Shakespeare was so fond of cross-dressing as a plot device - a boy disguised as a girl, disguised as a boy. It also heightens the comedy; both Mark Rylance (Olivia) and Paul Chahidi (Maria) would make wonderful Pantomime Dames if they so chose.

The big name in this production is Stephen Fry as Malvolio. He is, by turns, side-splittingly funny and heart-rendingly vulnerable. There's a touch of Lord Melchett in his performance, but this works splendidly. Fry is a much better actor than many people (including himself?) give him credit for.

The twins are convincingly interchangeable (not least due to the preposterous wigs they each sport); and though it seemed to me that Viola took a couple of scenes to get into his stride, he was great thereafter. Mark Rylance plays Olivia as a semi-hysterical spinster unable to contain her lust for the handsome young "Cesario." When Sebastian (who Olivia thinks is "Cesario") responds positively to her advances, Rylance's reaction is a hoot.

The comedy double-act of Toby Belch (Colin Hurley) and Andrew Aguecheek (Roger Lloyd "Trigger" Pack) is wonderful. The duel between Aguecheek and Viola/Cesario is hilarious; but for pure comedy it is topped by the Box Tree scene, where Belch, Aguecheek and Fabian eavesdrop on Malvolio as he struggles with the planted letter. I have never known this scene to be done better, or to have got more laughs.

All in all, this production treats Twelfth Night as the comedy it is - but not JUST as a comedy. It is no accident that the most serious character in the play is Feste, the Clown (Peter Hamilton Dyer). He seems to drift though the play with an air of cynical aloofness, his songs hinting that this comedy has a darker side.

I cannot praise this production enough.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 9 February 2014
Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, or What You Will, which dates from the fecund year of 1601, just after Hamlet, is one of the bard’s plays about confusion. A pair of twins is separated in a shipwreck. One, a woman, dresses as a man, and the two are reunited at the end of the play. But between the separation and reunion, much happens, all having to do with wooing and love.

The idea of separated twins is something Shakespeare used in the early Comedy of Errors. In that play, the twins were separated at birth. And the woman dressing as a man was essential in As You Like It, which Shakespeare wrote just a year or two earlier, where Rosalind had to hide her femininity during her travels in the Forest of Arden.

The Elizabethan stage did not allow women on stage, so any time there was cross-dressing, it created double ambiguity: a man playing a woman dressed as a man; the audience certainly understood that two-pronged change. In this production – described as an Original Practices performance – the Globe Theatre company performs Twelfth Night with all men, bringing back the way gender was treated in the early 17th century. Johnny Flynn plays Viola (also known as Cesario, creating yet another layer of dissimulation), Mark Rylance is Olivia, and Paul Chahidi plays Maria, Olivia’s maid.

The play begins with Viola’s explanation for why she dresses as a man. She hear’s of Orsino’s love for Olivia, and realizes that, if she were disguised as a man, she might serve as matchmaker, and “might not be delivered to the world.”

The rest of the play revolves around the confusion that arises when Viola falls in love with Orsino, and when, as courier to Olivia sending messages of Orsino’s love for the latter, Olivia becomes smitten with Viola. A side plot involves Malvolio, who has the beguine for Olivia. Maria, Olivia’s maid, together with two comic characters, Sir Toby Belch (a Falstaff-like character) and Sir Andrew, are involved in a ploy to trick Malvolio and make him think he is loved.

In the end, Viola’s brother Sebastian returns, and there is confusion with Olivia who marries Sebastian, Viola’s twin brother, then sees Viola who knows nothing of the marriage. But all ends well, as the two loving couples unite.

This is a lively production, with wonderful comic timing, with entrances and exits making scenes segue with no interruption. The Globe’s approach to have almost no sets – other than the occasional table or bench – makes the stage very fluid, and the actors all bubble with humor throughout.

The performance revolves around Mark Rylance’s Olivia, who has a strong stage presence throughout. Rylance plays a role that is subtle and powerful, yet I had a bit of difficulty suspending belief. Olivia should be fairly young, yet Rylance is in his 50s. The voice he uses – a slight falsetto – makes him sound like an elderly woman. While his acting is nearly perfect from a textbook point of view, I just didn’t find his characterization believable enough.

Nevertheless, there are certain points in the play when Rylance’s Olivia achieves perfection. Certain gestures, glances, and stuttering words give the character a life that no soliloquy could equal. The look on Olivia’s face when he suggests that Malvolio – clearly a trifle mad – go to bed, and the latter replies, “To bed! ay, sweet-heart, and I’ll come to thee,” is memorable.

As for Malvolio, Steven Fry gives a powerful performance of this somewhat gauche man who is full of himself, then thinks himself loved by Olivia. The scene in the garden where Malvolio reads the forged letter from Olivia – really written by Maria – is a masterpiece, as Fry falls into the character with ease and grace.

The rest of the cast is very good, if not excellent. While I found Johnny Flynn unconvincing as Viola, I thought Colin Hurley, as Sir Toby Belch, and Roger Lloyd Pack, as Sir Andrew Aguecheck were a wonderful comic duo.

This is a boisterous performance, and, aside from my reservations about Rylance, is delightful and effective. This production is currently on Broadway; the DVD here is a film of a production at the Globe Theatre in London from September, 2012. If you can’t see it live, then this DVD – with a slightly different cast from the Broadway production – is the next best thing. The DVD is not yet available in the US, but if you order it from Amazon UK, it is in NTSC format, and has no region code, and is therefore compatible with US DVD players.
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I'll admit to a certain level of bias. I first saw this production in 2002 at the Globe and fell in love with it. Twelfth Night was already my favourite Shakespeare play, but after seeing this I never wanted to see it performed differently. For the first time I could see how someone could confuse Viola/Cesario and Sebastian. Olivia was just hilarious. The all-male production was just perfect. When it was revived in Summer 2012 I rounded up my whole family and forced them to go - I was waiting online to buy tickets as soon as they went on sale. The recreated production didn't disappoint and everyone went away happy. All I wanted was a DVD to keep the memory alive forever.

And now I have it. The production is brilliant. The actors are amazing. My only quibble is with some of the recording - and I love the production so much, I still gave it 5 stars. The picture quality isn't always as good as you'd hope. If there was a Blu-ray I would've bought it, but there's not. On my 38" TV the close-ups are fine, but some of the wide shots are sometimes a little less crisp than you'd want.

There also seems to be a slight intermittent issue with the audio sync - on occasion, in close up, it looks slightly out. Now I'm only talking about a few frames - and if I didn't work in video editing for my job I might not have noticed - but it some times it just caught me as being off. But it's not enough to put me off - even on DVD it is a very good representation of the theatrical production. And it is very much the theatrical production - the actors are not acting for the cameras, they're doing it for the audience, so it does sometimes look a little stagey, but hey, it's an in-theatre recording.

I wonder if it will work best for people who saw it in the theatre, but I do think it is the definitive production of this play - and once you've seen it you may not want to see another version. It's definitely funnier than the Trevor Nunn version (which I bought a decade ago after seeing this the first time) and I don't think there's a better version of the play available to buy. I wonder if it will work best for people who saw it in the theatre, but I do think it is the definitive production of this play - and once you've seen it you may be kicking yourself for not seeing it in the flesh. The most of the cast are off to Broadway in Autumn 2013 - and the New York audiences are in for a treat. I wish I could see it in person again - but if I can't, this is the next best thing.
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on 16 March 2016
I'm shocked that most of the reviews for this production are five-star. First of all, the female characters in Shakespeare's time were played by young boys -- not 50-ish men -- so that's strike #1 against the "original practices" concept that is supposedly being put forth here. Second, would we really accept a 56-year-old Olivia were the role played by a female actor? I think not. Third, the actor playing the fool can't sing well enough for the vocal demands of the role, and basically maintains one facial expression throughout the entire play -- a sort-of wide-eyed staring, that becomes even more distracting when he sings (which can't have been that comfortable for him). FOURTH, the actor playing Viola seems to be very self-consciously attempting to mimic typical femininity, which, in my opinion, he doesn't succeed at very well. Goodness. FIFTH, Orsino isn't charismatic at all in this -- it makes far more sense to have a rather young and dashing Orsino. Positives were Maria, who was hilarious, and both Sir Toby and Sir Andrew, who were both great. The music was also mostly wonderful (except for most of the Feste parts, and also the choice to have the entire cast sing as a chorale mid-play -- this was pretty, but odd to have some of them, ex. Sir Toby, so completely out-of-character for those moments). The overall impression given by this production is OKAY, but to get through this I had to constantly make the CHOICE to ignore the masculinity, strained falsettos, and advanced age of the "female" characters. Keeping the humor and music for this production, but using excellent, funny female actors -- or, if you could find them, young boys who are wonderful Shakespeare actors and whose voices have not yet changed -- for the female leads would make this effort tip-top (with the possible exception of Maria, which actually worked well as a "travesty" role). There's something rather sinister in casting the play this way, actually. It hints at misogyny, and I fear that many of those who are praising it might not be so keen on the female gender in general.
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on 3 April 2014
And the too soon departed Roger Lloyd-Pack.

Thank God and the Globe that someone had the foresight to film this performance. This is sheer, blissful, give-yourself-over-to-it fun. The laughs started with the opening scene, and the first scream laughs started with Mark Rylance' first footfall on the stage, if you could call it that. He certainly looked like he had on skates under that beautiful dress.

I had the great good fortune to see this leaning on the front of the stage at the new Globe in London, then eight months later from a seat on the stage in New York. I was able to secure the entire second row of the center orchestra and filled it with friends. One of the greatest joys of my life, at least thus far, was being able to look past the footlights and see the faces of my closest friends, second row center, convulsed with laughter. Three of the men kept handkerchiefs in hand, wiping away tears of laughter.

I have seen hundreds of productions of Shakespeare's plays. I can confidently state I will never see a better production. Rylance is never less than perfection, Fry's Malvolio's preening courtship of Rylance' Olivia, spurred by Chahidi's Maria was supremely funny, but I don't think you could expect less from that trio.

Unfortunately, Roger Lloyd-Pack was too ill to make the trip to New York, but thank goodness, his performance as Sir Andrew Aguecheek is preserved here during the London run.

Well, here's that word that any of us hate to use when reviewing any Shakespeare performance, this play is ridiculously accessible. Anybody, from scholars to music hall holdouts, will enjoy this play. It is impossible not to.

I've just ordered seven more dvd's of this. The fifteen I've already ordered are scattered to friends as mementos of one of the best nights of theater I've ever enjoyed, or to people who were never able to get to NY to see it.

Buy this, and settle in for an evening of delight, knowing you're seeing performers at the pinnacle of their powers.
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on 28 September 2015
This was fun! I did not buy the DVD because of Mark Rylance, but I will watch it again (and probably again some day) because of him. He is just unbelievable... fun, like LOL fun, but never flat, never stupid, there is so much intelligence and elegance in what he does. But the others did well, too. Very well indeed. I had no idea , when I purchased the DVD, because I had just seen some trailer on youtube (and I am a Johnny Flynn fan), that I would get such an extraordinary piece of art. From the theater itself, to the music, to the actors, to the wonderful words (the difficult part, for I am clearly no native speaker....) everything complemented each other.
You should buy the DVD. Really.
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on 21 November 2013
I saw Twelfth Night here in NYC. This is one of the greatest productions of a Shakespeare play that I have ever seen. Seeing and hearing a great production "live" cannot be reproduced in a film. However, the film is a wonderful record of this very special production. The acting, set design, direction, and music are superb and the film does give so much, if not all, of a sense of being there. Not everyone will be able to see Twelfth Night in New York. I am so glad that those who love the theater will have a chance to see the film of Twelfth Night. The dvd is region free and will play on any American player.
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on 30 March 2014
The very good reviews of the New York run were merited, and it's even better being at the Globe. It really is NTSC and worked perfectly on my USA DVD player and TV (via HDMI). From the internet, NTSC will also play on the UK-Europe PAL equipment, but not vice versa. It seems like a very good idea to do it that way especially for stage plays, ballets, etc, which will have comparatively low total sales worldwide so the last thing needed is more overhead in putting it out in two formats. I wish more of them were released that way on DVD.
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on 6 October 2014
Sorry not to join in the chorus of praise; three stars for effort, for they all try very hard indeed, to the extent that it becomes quite tiring to watch and hear them. This is, after all, a Shakespeare comedy and not an Ealing comedy; there should be a certain contrast between courtly and vulgar style; for example, Olivia should be a worthy object of the Duke Orsino's infatuation, and not a ridiculous pantomime dame. Played all in the same key, the whole thing becomes somewhat monotonous and tedious.
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