Twelfth Night or What You Will

Translator: NÁDASDY Ádám

Twelfth Night is Shakespeare’s last comedy, thus a synthesis of all that had been tried out and successfully put on stage by the author. This piece tackles some very intricate and pliable relationships – brotherly, friendly, master-servant, but most of all love relationships, transcending the characteristics of the genre of comedy. There is such a thin line between the light, joyful comedy and the sublime tragedy that it is possible to give interpretation almost within the same key. László Bocsárdi with his direction of Hamlet has had the goal of our encountering with the state of “time out of its joint”; he wished to formulate our relationship with the tragic sense of creation.

Twelfth Night is Shakespeare’s most popular comedy, which seemingly is a light piece having the goal of loose, merry drollery, becoming the cavalcade of multiple misunderstandings, deceptions and disguises. Even the earlier scholars noticed the significance that the play was written in the same year as Hamlet, in 1601. The main characters in fact unfold one single emotion throughout the play: the motif of unrequited, hopeless love.

Orsino, duke of Illyria is in love with the beautiful Olivia who does not even notice him. Viola on the other hand, is hopelessly in love with the duke, for she has to wear men’s clothes in order to be able to stay near Orsino. However, she, as the trusted assistant of the duke, has to be the helping hand in conquering Olivia. Yet, Olivia falls in love with the messenger Viola.

All these emotions going nowhere already bring a tragic overtone and this is not countervailed but rather emphasized by the banters of the buffoons.

At the end however, the simple comedy becomes a riddling and complex play, a true Shakespearian masterpiece.