MARK RYLANCE’S TWELFTH NIGHT. We shared the euphoria of the audience at Twelfth Night yesterday afternoon. I heard several people saying they wished they could see it again—it closes in a couple days—and if we could get tickets, we might fight the twelve or so inches of snow we picked up overnight to see it again. The company found all kinds of new things that Shakespeare had put into the play.
I have referred to the production as “Mark Rylance’s Twelfth Night” because his performance as Olivia shapes the play. She is shy, cautious, dignified, aristocratic, charming, even bubbly. One reason that Rylance’s casting has received attention is that Olivia has not been thought of, at least by me, as a pivotal figure. I have watched the play through Viola’s eyes, naturally enough because we tend to watch from the point of view of the person on stage who is in disguise. Will she make a mistake and be found out? What does she think of her new environment? Here, the attention is on the duke and the countess and on their reactions. Viola becomes a story-telling device.