Possibly one of Shakespeare's most revered comedies, Twelfth Night, has been presented in many versions, due in part to its content and subject-matter. After all, it isn't often you get to witness an early 17th-century play with darkly-humoured wit, cross-dressing and same-sex flirtations. The forthcoming production at The Globe, starring Mark Rylance as the aloof Olivia and Stephen Fry as the pompous Malvolio has already sold out its all-too-short run in the autumn, which not only reflects on the choice of actors, but also the choice of story. It is a tale of bittersweet and unrequited desires, dashed by the actions of others and a case (or two) of mistaken identities - hence the hilarious and riotous cross-dressing theme.
Viola is shipwrecked, changes identity to Cesario the page-boy and becomes the servant of Orsino, who is in love with recently-bereaved Olivia. Orsino cannot win Olivia's affections, so begs Cesario to 'have a word on his behalf'. Problems are compounded when Olivia falls in love with 'Cesario', not realising that she is a he. To make matters more confusing, Viola/'Cesario' falls for Orsino, the latter remaining unaware of this situation, preferring to think of 'Cesario'/Viola as a friend. Add to the fact that Fry's character, Malvolio, is a pompous head-steward of the house and haplessly convinced that Olivia wants to marry him and you have classic Shakespeare.
Even though The Globe production has sold out, the production will be moved lock, stock, Rylance, Fry and barrel to the West End for a lengthier run at the Apollo Theatre, starting on 2nd November and finishing on 3rd February 2013. Tickets are on sale now, priced at £32 for balcony seats, £60 for cirles and £70-£95 for dress-circles and stalls. You cannot afford to miss this, second time around.
And if that isn't enough, Mark Rylance fans can see even more of the acclaimed 'Jerusalem' actor at the same venue, when he appears in Shakespeare's Richard III from 6th November until 2nd February 2013. Swapping the Globe for the Apollo, femininity for masculinity and corsets for robes, Rylance will undertake the title-role in repertory, that's when he's not playing Olivia in Twelfth Night. Dates are limited and again cost from £32 to £95.