— Malvolio 2.5.128
We start at sea, as the set pieces get unpacked and turn into a ship. A sea shanty tells us the tale of Viola (Emily Young) and Sebastian, twins who are shipwrecked off the coast of Illyria. Separated, each believes the other dead.
In Illyria Viola disguises herself as a boy and becomes Cesario. Viola falls in love with Duke Orsino, for whom she has come under the care of. He is in love with the Countess Olivia (Jessie Austrian). Cesario is sent to Olivia to plead the Duke’s case of love, but Olivia falls in love with her thinking she is a man.
In a comic subplot, Sir Toby (Andy Grotelueschen) Olivia’s mischievous and drunken uncle, Sir Andrew (Paco Tolson) another would be suitor, and Maria (Tina Chilip), Olivia’s maid plan revenge on Olivia’s pompous steward, Malvolio (Paul L. Coffey). They make Malvolio believe that Olivia has fallen for him by planting a love letter, written by Maria in Olivia’s handwriting. It asks Malvolio to wear yellow stockings cross-gartered, to be rude to the rest of the servants, and to smile constantly in the presence of Olivia. Pretending that Malvolio is insane, they lock him up in a dark chamber. Feste visits him to mock his insanity, both disguised as a priest and as himself.
Meanwhile, Viola’s twin, Sebastian (Javier Ignacio), has been rescued by Antonio (David Samuel), an outlaw whom Orsino wants arrested. Taking Sebastian for ‘Cesario’, Olivia asks him to marry her, and they are secretly married in a church. Finally, when ‘Cesario’ and Sebastian appear in the presence of both Olivia and Orsino, there is more wonder and confusion at their similarity. At this point, Viola reveals her disguise and that Sebastian is her twin brother. The play ends in a declaration of marriage between Duke Orsino and Viola, and it is learned that Sir Toby has married Maria.
Twelfth Night or What You Will: Fiasco Theatre Company at Classic Stage Company, 136 East 13th until Jan 6th.