Love’s Night Is Noon

Twelfth Night, Act III: Scenes 1-4

I realize this play was meant to be silly entertainment, but I’m not wild about it the way the French are for, say, Jerry Lewis movies.

Screwball comedies walk a fine line.  Blame it on the moon, blame it on my mood, blame it on a hasty read to finish up on deadline… but so far, I’m just not that into this one as much as I had hoped.

Here’s where maybe a commentary or two might help.

A lot of the verbal wit exchanged between the fool and Viola went straight over my modern head. But, truth be told, I’m not overly fond of any of the characters. So all the sport that’s being had at the expense of Andrew and Malvolio seems like frat party overkill to me.  If Adam Sandler wants a crack at Shakespeare, here might make a dubious point of entry.

Andrew is a doofus, sure. And Malvolio is a stick in the mud. But Toby feels no remorse duping Andrew out of 2000 ducats (and now his horse). Malvolio has set himself up for punishment, I suppose, through his vanity and not knowing his place.

Shakespeare seems to be mocking love’s flighty nature, so it’s hard to make much ado about nothing. The point, I suppose, is to savor the skewering of absurdity. But to riff Jay McInerney’s line about David Foster Wallace, an infinite jest easily turns into an interminable joke.

I’m not laughing — yet. Two more short acts follow. Hopefully, hilarity ensues.


2 Responses to “Love’s Night Is Noon”

  1. When I read this play, at high school, I took an instant dislike to what I saw as bullying of poor silly Malvolio. I have seen it since and I guess it’s necessary to *see* the actors -a tubby Toby in those ridiculous Elizabethan romper things and a skinny Andrew shaking and tripping over his feet. The witty banter has so many classical references and puns in obsolete language that it is very hard to keep up with – when spoken it’s so fast that it doesn’t seem to matter if we get it. Not my favourite play.

  2. I wondered about seeing it vs. reading it. My notes make reference to Malvolio’s Puritanical connection — that the spirit here is of a roast. Then again, I tend to wince at those affairs. It all starts out in good fun, and then… I dunno… it starts to feel like gluttony and piling on.

    Sebastian doesn’t deserve his good fortune; he just happens to be in the right place at the right time. That feels a tad deus ex machina to me, like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. I know, I know, it’s a comedy. I’m all for merriment. I’m just not that into this one.

    Time will tell. There might be something big I’m missing. I’ll post an update once I watch the highly rated movie version.

    (And thanks for letting me know I’m not completely crazy. At least in this regard, anyway.)

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