Viola is in love with Orsino. Orsino is in love with Olivia. Olivia is in love with Viola. Malvolio is in love with Olivia. Antonio is in love with Sebastian. Sebastian is in love with Olivia. Maria is in love with Sir Toby. Sir Toby is in love with beer. (Here is where you say, “Love sucks!”)
But to complicate the situation — Viola (for personal reasons) has been dressing like a boy. Sebastian is Viola’s twin brother. Olivia (in love with Viola) takes one look at Sebastian and — well, you should watch the movie!
Twelfth Night is a farcical comedy, written by William Shakespeare in around 1601. It is a perfect play for the celebrations of Twelfth Night (January 6th) which mark the end of the Christmas season. Role reversals, mummers and merry-making were the Elizabethan order of the day. The Lord of Misrule came to rule. Servants were masters and masters were servants. The play’s full title was ‘Twelfth Night or What You Will’, seemingly because Twelfth Night is a night to do precisely what you personally will.
I still say The Shakes was way ahead of his time, constantly delving into themes of gender identity, cross-dressing and homoerotic love, centuries before they ever became political or civil rights issues.
If you have never seen Twelfth Night, you are in for a treat! This 1988 version, made for television and produced by Kenneth Branagh is one of my favorites. Running time is about 2.5 hours. Hope you get the chance to watch it, or — do What You Will!