(Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/ )
Orsino — Duke of Illyria (Yugoslavia)
Sebastian — twin brother of Viola
Viola — twin sister of Sebastian
Valentine and Curio — gentlemen serving Orsino
Antonio — former sea captain; rescuer of Sebastian
Olivia — rich countess
Maria and Fabian — Olivia’s servants
Malvolio — Olivia’s steward
Fool — Olivia’s resident jester (referred to in some texts as Feste)
Sir Toby Belch — Olivia’s uncle
Sir Andrew Aguecheek — friend of Sir Toby
Sea Captain (rescuer of Viola)
Gist of the story: Twins Sebastian and Viola are separated in a shipwreck off the coast of Illyria, and each thinks the other has drowned. Viola disguises herself as a man, and, with the help of her rescuer, makes her way to the court of Count Orsino, where she gets hired as a servant (“Cesario”). She falls in love with him but can’t tell him. Orsino is in love with Lady Olivia, but she has no interest in him. Orsino sends “Cesario” with love messages for Olivia, but she falls in love with the messenger instead. Meanwhile, Sir Andrew Aguecheek is in love with Olivia and is being encouraged by her uncle, Sir Toby Belch, who is leeching off him. Olivia’s steward, Malvolio, is tricked by Maria into believing that Olivia is in love with him. Sebastian and his rescuer, Antonio, come to town and get separated. Antonio mistakes Viola for Sebastian and get arrested while trying to save her from a duel. The chaos is finally sorted out, and three couples end up getting married — Orsino and Viola; Sebastian and Olivia; and Sir Toby and Maria. (Twelfth Night is full of improbabilities and is a good example of Shakespeare’s “fast and dirty” approach to stagecraft. The idea is to keep a complicated plot moving along, and neatness doesn’t count; neither does believability. The Director has little choice but to keep the staging simple and trust the audience to get it, which is the way it was done in Shakespeare’s day. This version has a break in Act 3, Scene 4 for the sake of clarity. The Fool’s closing song has been rewritten and makes use of the play’s alternate title, What You Will.)
Act 1, Scene 1. A hall in Orsino’s house. Background music is coming from nowhere. (The Director should choose something romantic but cheesy, like a French tune on the accordion.) Orsino comes in looking sad, accompanied by Curio.
Orsino: Ahhh–sweet music for people in love–people like me–I shouldn’t listen to it. It just keeps reminding me–(He shakes his head, unable to finish the sentence.)
Curio (With forced cheerfulness): Um, are you going hunting, my lord?
Orsino: Hunting for what?
Orsino (Reacting by holding his heart): Don’t say hart!–It sounds just like–(Sadly) heart.
Curio: Deer! I meant to say deer!
Orsino (Reacting with a groan, hands on his heart): Dear!–Dear–My dear Olivia–(A deep sigh) Yes, I’ve tried to hunt my dear Olivia–but with no luck. (Sighs again) My poor aching heart! (A pause. The music is still playing. Then, angrily) Turn off that fucking music!
(The music stops immediately. Then Valentine comes in.)
Orsino: Valentine! Did you deliver my letter? Did she say anything?
Valentine: I’m sorry, sir, but they wouldn’t even let me in. Lady Olivia does not wish to be disturbed while she’s in mourning for her poor brother. She intends to remain in mourning for seven years.
Orsino: Seven years! Is she crazy? Nobody should be in mourning for seven years! What should I do, wait seven years until she gets over it? And what if she decides to make it ten years, or fifteen?–This is no good. I’ve got to find some way to get through to her.–Let’s go out in the garden. I need some inspiration.
(They all leave.)
Act 1, Scene 2. On a beach. Viola and a ship’s Captain come in (and optionally some sailors). A shipwreck is suggested.
Viola (Anxiously): Where’s my brother? Did he get ashore? Did you see him?
Captain: The last I saw of him, he was holding on to some debris from the ship. I–I don’t know, madam–It’s possible he made it to shore.
Viola (Holding back tears): Yes–yes–of course–He’s somewhere–Where are we, Captain?
Captain: This is Illyria, madam.
Viola: Do you know this country at all?
Captain: I know it well, madam. I was born here.
Viola: Who is the ruler?
Captain: The Duke Orsino. He’s a good man.
Viola: I’ve heard of him. Does he rule alone? I mean, is he married?
Captain: No, madam. Never been married. But I’ve heard he’s in love with a beautiful young countess–Lady Olivia.
Viola: What’s she like?
Captain: A very good lady, madam. Lost her brother last year. Too bad. Now she’s in mourning for him. She won’t even look at another man. She just keeps thinking of her poor brother–or so I hear.
Viola: I can imagine how she feels. I’d gladly work for a lady like that.
Captain: Work for her? Oh, but madam, you’re a noble lady yourself. You can’t work for someone.
Viola: I don’t want anyone to know that I’m a noble. I want to keep that a secret. As long as I’m in a strange country–and I don’t have my brother with me–I think it’s safer if I pass for an ordinary person. Can you understand that?
Captain: Oh, I suppose. Well, in any case, you couldn’t get in to see the Countess anyway. She’s shut herself off from the rest of the world–or so I’ve heard.
Viola: Captain, I believe I can trust you. I want you to help me, and I’ll make it worth your while.
Captain: Yes, madam. Whatever I can do for you.
Viola: I want you to keep my identity a secret. And I want you to help me disguise myself as a man–and take me to the Duke’s court.
Captain: But your voice, madam. How can you disguise that?
Viola: I’ll say it’s just a family trait. We’re all high-pitched.
Captain: And what will you do when you meet the Duke?
Viola: I’ll get myself hired. What else?
Captain: Madam–you have nerve.
Viola: Fortunately, nerve is a family trait. Come, now. Take me to the Duke.
Act 1, Scene 3. Sir Toby Belch comes in with Maria.
Sir Toby: My niece should stop grieving over her brother and get on with her life. She’s a very eligible lady. In fact, I have a friend who’s very keen on her. He’s a fun guy–just like me.
Maria: Oh, yes, we know what a fun guy you are, Sir Toby. Your niece is not entirely happy about that. She’s not too thrilled about your late-night partying.
Sir Toby: Bah! She’s acting like an old nun. So I like to enjoy myself. What’s wrong with that?
Maria: Pleasure has its proper limits.
Sir Toby: Proper limits! Please!
Maria: And she doesn’t think too much of your friend either. She thinks he’s an idiot.
Sir Toby: Sir Andrew Aguecheek? An idiot?
Sir Toby: Well, I don’t think so. He’s a perfectly acceptable gentleman–in his own way.–He’s tall. That’s good for a gentleman.
Maria: So what?
Sir Toby: He gets three thousand ducats a year. And he can play the violin–or cello–I forget. And he can speak several languages–more or less well.
Maria: Or so he claims. I agree with your niece. He’s an idiot. It’s purely a matter of luck that a guy like that is born into a title and a bit of money–neither of which he deserves. He’s irresponsible, he’s loud, he’s crass–and–I understand that he’s a coward.
Sir Toby: Who says so?
Maria: The same people who say that you and he get plastered every night.
Sir Toby: Now, that’s an exaggeration. We drink to my niece, that’s all. We drink to her good health–a lot–purely out of affection. That’s not getting plastered. That’s–you know–being gallant.–Ah, here he is now.
(Sir Andrew Aguecheek comes in.)
Sir Andrew (Loudly): Sir Toby Belch! How’s it going?
Sir Toby: Ah, Sir Andrew! We were just talking about you.
(Maria rolls her eyes.)
Sir Andrew: Were you now! That’s wonderful!
Sir Toby: This is Maria, my niece’s waiting maid.
Maria: How do you do.
Sir Andrew: Well! Well! Well! The pleasure is all mine–I hope–ha, ha, ha!
Sir Toby (Aside to Sir Andrew): She’s a hottie. You could do her if you wanted.
Sir Andrew (Loudly): What! Right here? What would people say?–Ha, ha, ha!
(Maria turns to the audience and makes a sour face. Then she begins to leave.)
Sir Toby (Aside to Sir Andrew): Don’t let her get away. Tell her what you’ve got in your pants.
Sir Andrew (Loudly): Wait, my dear! I haven’t told you about my pants–I mean, what I have in my pants.
Maria: Is it more than what you’ve got in your brain?
Sir Andrew: Oh, yes! Much more!–Um, that is–
(Maria walks out.)
Sir Toby: Aww, Sir Andrew, you let her get the better of you, man. You’re losing your touch. I think you need a drink.
Sir Andrew: Yeah, I guess so. If I were properly drunk, then I’d have a good excuse for being stupid.
Sir Toby: Aw, go on.
Sir Andrew: You know, sometimes I think I should have taken school more seriously. I should have become an intellectual.
Sir Toby: Women don’t go for intellectuals. They’re too shallow.–Women, I mean.
Sir Andrew: Lucky for me and a lot of other guys. But in any case, I’ve decided to go home tomorrow.
Sir Toby: Oh! Why?
Sir Andrew: I’m not getting anywhere with your niece. She won’t give me the time of day. And besides, I hear that Orsino has his eye on her. And how can I compete with a duke?
Sir Toby: But she’s not interested in him. She doesn’t care about high status, or men with lots of money or brains. That’s why I think you still have a good chance with her.
Sir Andrew: You think so?
Sir Toby: Of course. Don’t go home yet.
Sir Andrew: All right. I’ll stay a while longer. Maybe I can find someone to go dancing with. I like to dance.
Sir Toby: Great idea. Are you a good dancer?
Sir Andrew: Oh, for sure. I practice all the fancy steps by myself in front of the mirror. I can even outdance my own reflection.
Sir Toby: That’s awesome! That’s what I call talent. I couldn’t do that. Listen, Andrew, you shouldn’t hide your talents under a bushel–or whatever it is. Let the world see what you’re made of.
Sir Andrew: You’re right. You know, I even bought some special pants for dancing–brown ones. I got them at a flea market from a gypsy.
Sir Toby: Oh, you want to be careful! You don’t want to catch the crabs.
Sir Andrew: Catch crabs? Oh, no, no. I have other pants for that. The brown ones are strictly for dancing.
Sir Toby: Uh–right.–Anyway, let’s go get a drink.
Act 1, Scene 4. Valentine comes in with Viola, who is now disguised as “Cesario.”
Valentine: I have to hand it to you, Cesario. You’ve made a spectacular impression on the Duke. You’ve only been here three days, and he treats you like his favorite.
Viola: I hope it stays that way. I certainly like him, too.
Valentine: Here he comes now.
(Orsino comes in.)
Orsino: Ah, there you are, Cesario.
Viola: At your service, my lord.
Orsino: A word with you privately.
(Valentine takes the hint and leaves.)
Orsino: I don’t normally take servants into my confidence on personal matters, but with you I make an exception.
Viola: You can always count on me, sir.
Orsino: I’m grateful for that. I’ve told you about my situation regarding Lady Olivia. I need you to go and see her in my behalf. I’m desperate. You’ve got to get in and speak to her. Don’t let her people try to blow you off. Be pushy. Be obnoxious. Do whatever it takes.
Viola: I’ll certainly try, my lord. And if I can get in to see her, what would you like me to say?
Orsino: Tell her I love her. Tell her how sincere I am. Try to put yourself in my place and plead with her as I would. She’ll listen to you. You’re a young man. You’re closer to her age. She’ll listen to you more than to an older man like me.
Viola: I think you underestimate your appeal, my lord.
Orsino: It doesn’t matter. You’re much better suited to break through to her. She’ll like you. She’ll relate to you. You have a–how can I put it–a rather gentle, feminine presence. She won’t put up a barrier with you the way she would with–you know–a more masculine man. Am I making sense?
Viola: I understand, my lord.
Orsino: Good. Curio can show you the way, and you’ll have a few attendants to escort you as well. If you can pull this off, there’ll be a big reward in it for you.
Viola: My greatest reward would be your happiness, my lord. (Aside to the audience) And to marry the Duke myself, if I could.
Act 1, Scene 5. Maria comes in with the Fool.
Maria: Where have you been? Lady Olivia’s been looking for you. Some fool you are, to go off when your poor, unhappy mistress needs you most. She’ll be very angry with you if you don’t have a good reason for your absence.
Fool: I’ve been consulting the highest authorities. That’s where I’ve been.
Maria: The highest authorities in what?
Fool: In wisdom, of course.
Maria: And why would you have any need for that?
Fool: Don’t you think an average person needs wisdom?
Fool: Then a fool needs it even more–which justifies my absence.
Maria (Slyly): But if you’ve acquired wisdom, then you’re no longer a fool–which means we no longer need you here, right?
Fool: Notwithstanding any exposure I may have had to wisdom–usually second-hand wisdom inhaled by being in the same room–I am nevertheless prepared–by training as well as natural inclination–to be a fool deliberately, for the benefit of my mistress. Or would you prefer an educated man who was a fool unintentionally? There are plenty of them at the university.
Maria: It doesn’t matter what I prefer. I only work here. But if Lady Olivia is angry with you, you shall be well hanged.
Fool: That won’t be necessary as I am already well hung.
Maria: I must correct your usage. Objects are hung, but people are hanged.
Fool: Please have mercy! Don’t correct my usage. Let me be well hung. I’ll have my portrait painted, and we’ll hang him instead. I think that’s a decent compromise.
(Maria leaves. Then Olivia comes in with Malvolio and some Attendants.)
Fool: Oh, madam, there you are! I’ve missed you so much! How wonderful it is to see your sweet face again!
Olivia (To the Attendants): Get rid of this fool! He’s no use to me!
Fool (To the Attendants): Yes! Get rid of this fool! (Indicating Malvolio) He’s no use to her!
Malvolio: You are impertinent!
Fool: Which means “not pertinent.” But not pertinent to what, specifically? We cannot be pertinent to all things at all times, now, can we? So, of course, I am not pertinent to some things at this moment–but neither are you.
Malvolio (Appealing to Olivia): Madam–I–he can’t–
Olivia: I swear, he gets funnier all the time, doesn’t he, Malvolio?
Malvolio (Suppressing his anger): Oh, yes. He’ll never be funnier than on the last day of his life. And let’s hope his increasing wit is a sign of that approaching day.
Fool: And may you never be more clever than you are now–and enjoy a very long life of gradually declining faculties.
Malvolio: Madam, how can you tolerate this–this nasty, miserable excuse for a clown?
Fool: A miserable excuse is better than no excuse–and you have none.
Olivia (Laughing): It’s all right, Malvolio. You know how he jokes. You just have to learn to take it.
(Maria comes in.)
Maria: Madam, there’s a young gentleman at the gate who insists on speaking to you.
Olivia: Did Count Orsino send him?
Maria: I don’t know, madam. There are some attendants with him. Your uncle Toby is talking to him now.
Olivia: Oh, dear–and he’s probably drunk. Tell him to come here. (Maria leaves.) Malvolio, go see what that fellow wants. If he’s from the Duke, just tell him something to get rid of him. Say that I’m sick, or I’m not at home. Whatever.
Malvolio: Yes, madam.
Olivia (To the Fool): You did offend him, you know.
Fool (Head in hands in mock remorse): Oh, I feel so guilty!
(Sir Toby comes in, rather drunk.)
Olivia: Who’s at the gate, uncle?
Sir Toby: I don’t know who the feck he is, but he’s got a voice like a girl. He could be the devil’s messenger, for all I care. If I’ve got enough whiskey in me, I’m immune to anything.
(Sir Toby leaves.)
Olivia (To the Fool): Just keep an eye on him for me.
Fool: Every drunk deserves a fool for company.
(The Fool leaves. Then Malvolio returns.)
Malvolio: Madam, that fellow out there is very ill-mannered. He says he won’t leave until you agree to see him. I’ve never met anyone like him before.
Olivia (Intrigued): Really.–What sort of fellow is he?
Malvolio: He’s just a young chap. Looks rather delicate–like a woman. He speaks well, however, so he’s not stupid.
Olivia: All right. I guess there’s no harm in speaking to him. Show him in.
(Malvolio leaves. Then he returns with Viola, in the guise of Cesario.)
Olivia (To Malvolio): Leave us.
(Malvolio goes out, along with the Attendants.)
Viola: Are you the lady of the house?
Olivia: Yes. I am Olivia.
Viola: I can see why the Duke loves you. You’re very beautiful, madam.
Olivia: I’m not interested in flattery. What does the Duke have to say that I could possibly want to hear?
Viola: I have a lovely speech to deliver in his behalf. I’ve memorized it.
Olivia: I’m not interested in memorized speeches. He could just as easily have sent it in a letter–although I probably wouldn’t have read it anyway. Actually, I only let you in because you were rude to my steward, and I was curious to see if you were crazy or just stubborn.
Viola: I didn’t mean to be rude, but your people were not exactly welcoming. I didn’t want to tell them the nature of my business because it was for your ears only.
Olivia: All right. Now that you’re here.
Viola: My sweet lady–
Olivia: Sweet! Ha! Is that your word or Orsino’s?
Viola: It’s what he would say if he were here.
Olivia: I wouldn’t take it seriously.
Viola: My lady, it would be cruel if you allowed your beauty to pass away from this world, instead of bringing beautiful children into it.
Olicia: I can just as easily have my portrait painted for the world to enjoy. Is that all your master has to say to me–that I’m beautiful?
Viola: I can see that you’re proud. But that doesn’t matter. My master loves you. He aches for you. He loses sleep over you. He’s obsessed with you.
Olivia: But I don’t love him. It’s that simple. I have nothing against him, mind you. I know he’s a nice man. He’s noble, he’s honourable, he’s intelligent, he’s rich, and I’d even say he’s handsome. But he knows I don’t want him, and he should just accept that.
Viola: Madam, if I were in his place and loved you the way he does, I would find your rejection absolutely bewildering. I wouldn’t know what to make of it.
Olivia: Indeed. And what would you do?
Viola: What would I do? I’ll tell you what I would do–if I were him. I’d build a little shack on the edge of your property so I could stand there and watch for you, just to catch a momentary glimpse of you. I’d write love songs to you, and I’d sing them all night long. I’d cry for you. I’d call out your name. I’d stand out there in the freezing rain and wind, and whenever you looked out your window, you’d see me there. Sooner or later, you’d give in.
Olivia (Amused): You are a plucky lad. What sort of people do you come from?
Viola: I’m higher-born than what I appear to be.
Olivia: What’s your name?
Olivia: Well, Cesario, please tell the Duke that I can’t love him, no matter how much he exerts himself. So there’s no point in his sending me any more messages–unless you care to come back and tell me how he took my reply. Here’s something for your trouble.
(She offers Viola a coin.)
Viola (Firmly): No, thank you, madam. I won’t accept a reward as long as my poor master is denied the reward he deserves. I hope someday you know what it feels like to give your heart to someone and have it stomped on. Good-bye, madam.
(Viola leaves. Olivia is shaken. A few seconds pass before she speaks.)
Olivia: What an extraordinary young man. Just like Malvolio said. He’s not like anyone I ever met before. (With a look of longing) Cesario–Cesario–(She regains her composure.) Malvolio!
(Malvolio comes in.)
Malvolio: Yes, madam?
Olivia: Run after that rude messenger from Orsino. (She hands Malvolio a ring.) Tell him I don’t want the ring Orsino sent me. He should tell the Duke that I’m not interested.–And if the messenger comes back tomorrow, I’ll tell him my reasons. Now go. Hurry.
(Malvolio leaves quickly. Olivia remains for a few seconds, looking emotionally distracted. Then she leaves.)
Act 2, Scene 1. In a house elsewhere in Illyria. Antonio and Sebastian come in.
Antonio: Sebastian, you’re welcome to stay as long as you like.
Sebastian: I can’t impose on your hospitality forever, Antonio. I already owe you my life for dragging me out of the water.
Antonio: It was fate. I was in the right place at the right time.
Sebastian: Yes–fate–But fate was not so kind to my sister.
Antonio: Oh. Yes. Your twin. What was her name?
Sebastian: Viola. I lost sight of her when the ship broke up.–I don’t think she made it.
Antonio: I’m sorry.
Sebastian: She was a wonderful lady. We were very close. I think about her all the time.
Antonio: Don’t leave while you’re feeling so bad. Stay.
Sebastian: No. I’d only depress you, and that would be a poor reward for your kindness.
Antonio: But where will you go?
Sebastian: I’ll find my way to the Duke’s court.
Antonio: Orsino? Oh, yeah. I sort of know him.
Sebastian: Do you?
Antonio: Yeah. I was a captain in a naval battle with his forces–except I was on the other side. We got into a skirmish with them. Did them some damage. I still have a price on my head. Otherwise, I’d take you there myself.
Sebastian: It’s okay. I’ll find my way somehow. Let me go now. It’s for the best. Good-bye.
(They embrace and then Sebastian leaves. Antonio paces back and forth unhappily.)
Antonio: Nuts! I can’t let him go by himself. I’d better go after him.
(He starts packing a bag hurriedly.)
Act 2, Scene 2. Viola is on the way home when Malvolio catches up with her.
Malvolio (Out of breath): Excuse me, sir.
Malvolio: Lady Olivia is returning the ring you gave her. (He holds out the ring.)
Viola: The ring?
Malvolio: From Count Orsino.
Viola: Oh–yes. (The suggestion to the audience is that Viola has not seen the ring before but is discreetly covering up Olivia’s lie. Viola does not accept the ring.)
Malvolio: The Countess wishes you to convery to the Duke that she is not interested in him and there is no point in sending any further messages. However, you may return if you wish to tell the Countess how he received the news.
Viola: I’m not taking the ring back.
Malvolio (Angrily throwing the ring on the ground): Fine! Leave it in the road, then! I don’t care!
(He leaves. Then Viola picks up the ring and ponders.)
Viola: What does this mean?–A ring–It’s obviously hers–I can come back? (She ponders some more.) That woman has a crush on me. That’s what it means. (She shakes her head.) Anyone here seen a lady named Viola?–No?–What can I do, tell the Duke who I really am? No way. I’m stuck.–What a mess!
Act 2, Scene 3. Sir Toby and Sir Andrew come in, rather drunk (possibly holding bottles) and singing.
Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall,
Ninety-nine bottles of beer–
If Sir Andrew Aguecheek finds his way to the hall,
There’ll be no more bottles of beer left at all!
Sir Toby (Loudly): What time is it?
Sir Andrew (Loudly): After midnight! Any chance of getting room service around here?
Sir Toby: Why not? I’m the Lady’s uncle!–Maria! We want food!
Sir Andrew: Food!
(The Fool comes in.)
Sir Andrew: I said food, not Fool!
Fool: How many fools do you see in the room, Sir Andrew?
Sir Andrew: One.
Fool: And how many do you see, Sir Toby?
Sir Toby: One.
Fool: And I see two. That makes (Counts fingers) four.
Sir Andrew: Ha! Then the fourth one must be invisible!
Sir Toby (Pretending to search): Where’s he hiding?–Come out, fool! Where are you?
Fool: Is there any beer left for me? There were ninety-nine bottles before I came in.
Sir Toby: That was then. Now there’s, uh–ninety-eight.
Ninety-eight boggles of beer on the wall–
Sir Andrew: Boggles?
Sir Toby: What did I say?
Sir Andrew: You said boggles.
Fool: As in “the mind boggles.”
Sir Toby: Oh, hell, I lost my mind long ago.
Sir Andrew (Singing): Ninety-eight bobbles of beer–no–
Sir Toby: Oh, you’re all right. Have another boggle.
Sir Andrew: Sir, I believe you’re drunk.
Sir Toby: Who, me? Don’t be silly. I’m as sober as a–a–
Fool: A giraffe.
Sir Toby: Exactly. I’m as sober as a giraffe–What?
Sir Andrew: A giraffe! Ha!
(Maria comes in.)
Maria: What’s all this racket?–Sir Toby, must you carry on like this? Your niece is very annoyed with you. She’s told Malvolio to kick you out of the house if you don’t behave yourself.
Sir Toby: Aw, forget it. We’re just having a little fun. And Malvolio can go feck himself. He’s such a stiff.–Where were we? Ninety-seven?
Sir Andrew: I forget.
Sir Toby (Sings):
Ninety-seven bottles of beer on the wall,
Ninety-seven boggles for the giraffe–
Sir Andrew: You’re wrong. It’s bobbles. And the giraffe isn’t supposed to drink. He’s a Baptist.
Sir Toby: Well, we’ll give him a few boggles anyway! That’ll make him happy!
(Malvolio comes in.)
Malvolio: Will you lunatics shut up! Do you know what time it is? Where do you think you are, in an alehouse? For a couple of nobles, you act very low-class. I shouldn’t have to correct you, but you leave me no choice.
Sir Toby: Aw, go suck a lemon.
Malvolio: Sir Toby, I’m telling you straight. Lady Olivia has had it up to here with you. She’s only tolerated you this long because you’re her uncle. But this–low-class behaviour has got to stop. Otherwise, she wants you out of the house. And I’m fed up, too. Your behaviour is–not in keeping with my own standards. And I speak as the steward of the house.
Sir Toby: You must have a butt plug up your ass.
Malvolio (To Maria): And you, Maria–You should be ashamed for encouraging such vulgarity.
Malvolio: You are not sufficiently heedful of your duties. And I will see to it that Lady Olivia knows.
Maria: What a jerk.
Sir Toby: You said it.
Maria: He thinks he’s better than he is. He wants to be a noble.
Sir Toby: Well, if he’s a noble, then I’m allowed to challenge him to a duel.–He doesn’t even have a sword–ha!
Maria: No, no. Don’t make things any worse. Lady Olivia had a bad day. The Duke sent a messenger, and she’s been upset even since.
Sir Toby: That guy gets up my nose. Steward of the house. Huh! He thinks he’s the master of the house.
(Maria reacts as if she’s gotten an idea.)
Maria: Mm–Now there’s a thought.
Sir Toby: What do you mean?
Maria: How would you like to cut him down a notch?
Sir Toby: Malvolio? Hell, yes!
Maria: I have an idea.
Sir Toby: Yeah? What?
Maria: I’ll write a fake letter from Lady Olivia and leave it where he’ll find it. A love letter.
Sir Toby: A love letter?
Maria: Yes. I’ll have her say that she’s in love with him. I can write like she does. My handwriting is almost the same anyway.
Sir Toby: Oh! Brilliant!
Sir Andrew: Do you think he’ll fall for it?
Maria: Absolutely. I’ll set it up so that the two of you can hide and watch what happens.
Sir Toby: You’re–magnificent! (He gives her a loud pretend kiss. Maria laughs on her way out.) She’s so cool. And I think she likes me.
Sir Andrew (Sighs): I wish a certain Countess liked me.
Sir Toby: Oh, she does–more or less. Give her time.
Sir Andrew: Well–
Sir Toby: You’re still in the game, man. Trust me.–Um, by the way–um, you’re going to need to get some more money.
Sir Andrew: So soon?
Sir Toby: Well–at your convenience–but soon. It takes money to have fun in this town, you know.
Sir Andrew: You’re costing me an arm and a leg. If I don’t get to marry your niece, I’ll be broke.
Sir Toby: No, no, no–nothing of the sort. Don’t you worry. Everything will work out fine.
Sir Andrew: You really think she’ll marry me?
Sir Toby: Yes, yes, yes. I’m totally–well, highly confident.–What do you say we go raid the liquor cabinet–dig up a bottle of sherry?
Sir Andrew: I’m with you, bro!
(Sir Andrew and Sir Toby leave.)
Fool (To the audience): Don’t worry about the giraffe. I’ll see to it that they don’t get him drunk.
(The Fool leaves.)
Act 2, Scene 4. Orsino comes in with Viola.
Orsino: Cesario, if you ever fall in love, perhaps you’ll understand how miserable I feel. All I can think about is Lady Olivia–but I can’t have her.
Viola: I do understand, my lord.
Orsino: Then you’ve been in love, have you?
Viola: Yes, my lord.
Orsino: And are you still? (Viola tries to reply but can’t find the words.) What sort of woman is she?
Viola: Oh–she’s a lot like you, actually.
Orsino: Then she’s hardly worth it. How old is she?
Viola: She’s–mature. Almost your age.
Orsino: Too old for you, my boy. Nature intended for younger women to marry older men, not the other way around. The woman adjusts to the needs of the man, and he’s happy and he stays faithful. And besides, a man can get older and still be attractive to a younger woman. But if a young man marries an older woman, he’ll see her lose her beauty in a few years and realize he made a mistake.
Viola: I think you’re right, my lord.
(A pause while Orsino ponders.)
Orsino: Cesario, you must try again for my sake. Go see Lady Olivia. If she thinks I’m only interested in her money, tell her she’s wrong. I’m already rich enough. I love her for her beauty–for her nobility.
Viola: My lord–it has to be both ways. What if she just can’t love you?
Orsino: I refuse to accept that.
Viola: But, my lord, what if the situation were the other way around? Suppose some lady loved you as much as you love Lady Olivia, but you didn’t love her? Wouldn’t she have to accept that?
Orsino: That couldn’t happen. No woman could love me that much.
Viola: Oh, but she could.
Orsino: What makes you so sure?
Viola: I know a lot about the way women in love feel.–I had a sister.
Orsino: You did?
Viola: Yes. She loved this man, but she couldn’t tell him.
Orsino: Why not?
Viola: Well–it’s rather hard to explain. It was–shall we say, a matter of position.
Orsino: Ah, I see. So what happened?
Viola: She just pined away, locking her feelings inside herself. She was very depressed. It showed on her. She looked terrible.–You men–I mean, we men talk a lot about love, but we tend to exaggerate. It’s women who really feel things more deeply.
Orsino: And did your sister die from her love?
Viola: No. People don’t actually die from love, except in romantic ballads or stories. In real life, they just suffer–until they die of something more mundane.
Orsino: Well, I’m suffering now.
Viola: I’ll go see Lady Olivia again if you want me to.
Orsino: Yes. Give her this jewel. (He gives Viola a jewel.) Tell her–tell her my love will never die–just as this jewel will never lose its beauty. It’s forever.–And I won’t take no for an answer.
Viola: Yes, my lord.
Act 2, Scene 5. Outdoors somewhere on Olivia’s property. A path with a hedge, sufficient for concealment. The hedge is on one side of the stage, leaving most of the stage clear for Malvolio, who will come in later. Sir Toby and Sir Andrew come in and crouch behind the hedge. Sir Toby beckons to Fabian to follow.
Sir Toby: Fabian! Come on. You don’t want to miss this.
(Fabian joins them.)
Fabian: I wouldn’t miss this for a month’s wages.
Sir Andrew: This’ll be cool.
Fabian: I’ve always wanted to get even with that son of a bitch. You know, he almost got me fired for betting on a horse race.
Sir Toby: Well, we’re going to stick it to him good.–Ah, here comes magnificent Maria.
(Maria comes in.)
Maria: He’s coming this way. You fellows hide. Here’s the bait for the hook. (She shows the letter, which she then places on the path, approximately in the middle of the available space. Then she gestures to the men to be quiet and leaves. Then Malvolio comes in, strutting pretentiously. He talks to himself and pretends to carry on conversations.)
Malvolio: Count Malvolio!–I like the sound of that.–Count Malvolio!–How do you do, sir. I am Count Malvolio. I’m sure you’ve heard of me. And this is my wife, the Countess Olivia.–Yes, it’s true, I used to be her steward. But she fell in love with me for my nobility, as well as my good looks. Isn’t that right, my dear?–Ha, ha, ha! Yes, yes.–Superior people always rise to the top.
Sir Andrew (Aside to the others): What an asshole.
Sir Toby: Shh!
(Malvolio struts around and has another imaginary encounter.)
Malvolio: What? How dare you? This is an outrage! Do you realize whom you are talking to? I am Count Malvolio!
Fabian (Aside to the others): I could hit him with a rock from here.
Sir Toby: Shh!
Malvolio: Ah! My lord Prince! How good of you to come to visit.–And Princess! You are so radiant!–Lady Olivia will be down presently. You must be thirsty.–Maria! Bring wine! Be quick about it! Fabian! Bring us something to eat! Hurry up!–Ach! Why do I put up with such idiot servants!
Sir Andrew (Aside to the others): What I wouldn’t give for a bow and arrow right now.
Sir Toby: Shh!
(Malvolio spots the letter and picks it up.)
Malvolio: What the hell? (He opens the letter and looks at it.) I could swear this is Lady Olivia’s handwriting. (He reads it aloud.) “I command the one I love, but I cannot tell him. He commands my love, but he does not know it. M.O.A.I. rules my life.”–M.O.A.I.? M.O.A.I.? What does that stand for? (Resumes reading) “I would say this to my secret love. Forget about the difference in our social rank. Your fate and fortune await you. Seize the day. Soon you shall be as high as you deserve, so start acting like a noble. And wear those yellow stockings if you want to please me. And if you accept my love, smile when you’re near me. Your Secret Admirer.”
(The concealed men are struggling to contain their laughter.)
Malvolio: I have yellow stockings.–And she does command me because I work for her.–M.O.A.I.–Malvolio something–Malvolio, Olivia’s something?–Olivia’s amour immediately?–Master of amourous intimacy.–My only amourous interest? That could be it.–Anyway, the general meaning is obvious. Lady Olivia loves me! (He walks back and forth excitedly.) Yes! She must love me! Of course. I should have known.–Lady Olivia–and Lord Malvolio.–Count Malvolio!–Oh!–Oh!–I’m so excited!
(He runs out. The moment he’s gone, the concealed men burst out laughing.)
Sir Andrew: Master of amourous intimacy!
Sir Toby: My only amourous interest!
Fabian: Moron or asinine idiot!
Sir Andrew: Move over, ape-like ignoramus!
Sir Toby: Mislaid on an iceberg!
Fabian: Mentality of an iguana!
Maria: How did it go?
Sir Toby: It was perfect!
Fabian: You should have seen it!
Maria: Just wait. I’ll bet he’ll put on those yellow stockings. She hates them! And when he smiles at her, it’ll really piss her off, because he never does that and she’ll think he’s mocking her.
Sir Toby: This is fish is cooked and ready to be eaten.
Maria: Come on.
(As they follow her out, Sir Toby says aside to the audience, “I love this girl!”)
Act 3, Scene 1. Viola and the Fool meet outside Olivia’s house. Viola is going to the house, and the Fool is coming out of the gate. He is casually playing a flute, or ocarina, or similar. The following conversation requires a restrained tone rather than an overtly comic tone.
Viola: Hello, sir.
Viola: You’re Lady Olivia’s fool, aren’t you?
Fool: Actually, my official title is Philosopher In Residence.
Viola: Really? I didn’t think anyone would need a Philosopher In Residence.
Fool: Oh, yes. It’s becoming quite fashionable. I visit your master occasionally. I’m what you might call his out-source philosopher.
Viola: Yes. I thought I saw you there.
Fool: I make it my business to get around.
Viola: So it’s a business, then?
Fool: Yes. Pay what you like.
Viola: Tell me, what exactly does a philosopher do?
Fool: A philosopher alters the meanings of words.
Viola: What for?
Fool: Because we cannot alter things in themselves.
Viola: I suppose not.
Fool: For instance, we could not turn a mouse into a moose, or vice-versa, now, could we?
Viola: I should say not.
Fool: But a mouse and a moose differ by only one letter, correct?
Fool: So one could say that a mouse is four-fifths of a moose, and vice-versa, correct?
Viola: Well, if you put it that way.
Fool: There, you see? If a mouse and a moose are four-fifths alike, then they are very nearly the same.
Viola: A wise man would disagree.
Fool: No. If he were truly wise, he would say nothing, because a philosopher would simply corrupt his words to mean something else.
Viola: But isn’t philosophy the love of wisdom?
Fool: Of course. But the love of wisdom is not the same as wisdom. Philosophers never want to discover the truth about anything because then they’d be out of work. They just want to argue and theorize in a way that will keep them occupied forever–and employed.
Viola: Ah, I see what you mean. So it’s all about asking questions that can never be answered.
Fool: Now you’ve got it, sir. As long as the philosphers are kept safely occupied and shut away in their universities, they have a living and can’t hurt themselves. In the real world, they’d perish.
Viola: So they don’t actually have wisdom?
Fool: Only enough to know where their money comes from.
Viola: I see. (A pause) Is Lady Olivia at home?
(The Fool takes out a coin.)
Fool: This poor little ducat is looking for a friend.
(He looks at Viola until she gets the hint and takes out a similar coin and gives it to the Fool.)
Viola: There. Now he won’t be lonely any more.
Fool: You are a true patron of philosophy, sir. I shall go and tell Lady Olivia that you’re here.
(The Fool leaves.)
Viola: Clever guy.
(After a few seconds, Olivia appears.)
Olivia: So–you’ve come back, Cesario.
Viola: Yes, madam. Count Orsino has asked me to appeal to you once more in his behalf.
Olivia: I don’t want any more appeals from Count Orsino.–I had another reason for wanting you to come back.
Olivia: I sent you that ring.
Olivia: Well, perhaps it was a silly trick on my part. I did it on the spur of the moment. I suppose I’ve made a fool of myself, haven’t I?
Viola: I feel sorry for you, madam.
Olivia: Indeed. I guess it serves me right for showing my feelings. How stupid of me. How very, very stupid. Well, then, I won’t waste any more of your time. I’m sure you’ll end up with a fine lady someday–and she’ll have a fine husband.
Viola: Madam, I’m sorry that I can’t be what you want me to be.
Olivia (Holding back tears): I’d cut my heart out and give it to you on a platter if that would make you love me.
Viola: I’m sorry, but I’ve never loved a woman in that way, and I never will. I won’t impose upon you again in behalf of the Duke. Good-bye.
(Viola leaves. Olivia leaves in tears.)
Act 3, Scene 2. Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Fabian come in.
Sir Andrew: I’ve had enough. I’m leaving.
Sir Toby: Aw, Andrew, what’s the matter?
Sir Andrew: Your niece was having a very intimate conversation from the look of it–with Count Orsino’s messenger.–And the way she was looking at him–Well, she’s never looked at me that way, I’ll tell you that.
Sir Toby: Did she know you were watching?
Sir Andrew: I assume she did. I was standing just inside the front door.
Fabian: I think you misunderstood what happened, Sir Andrew. If Lady Olivia knew you were watching, she obviously wanted to make you jealous.
(A sly look passes between Fabian and Sir Toby.)
Sir Andrew: Why?
Fabian: Why? Because she loves you. And she’s waiting for you to make your move. This was her way of trying to arouse you.
Sir Toby: Yes, yes! That’s perfectly logical.
Fabian: You should’ve gone out there and told the messenger to get lost. But you missed your chance, and that makes you look bad. Now you’ll have to make up for it.
Sir Andrew: How?
Fabian: Either by doing something very brave or by showing Lady Olivia how cunning you are.
Sir Andrew: I was never very good at being cunning.
Sir Toby: Then show her how brave you are. Challenge that guy to a duel. Women really love it when men fight over them.
Sir Andrew: A duel?–Oh–I’ve never actually fought a duel.–I don’t know–
Fabian: It’s the best thing you can do, Sir Andrew. In fact, I’d say it’s the only thing left for you.
Sir Andrew: A duel–well–Hmm–All right.–If I challenge him, who’s going to deliver the challenge?
Sir Toby: One of us will, don’t worry. Now you get busy and write that guy a really nasty, intimidating letter. Make your handwriting look really angry and tough. And really insult the guy.
Fabian: Yes. You can say anything. After all, it’s only words on paper.
Sir Toby: Right. You’re not saying it to his face, so you can put all your bravery down on paper. Let it show.
(Sir Andrew assumes an exaggerated air of toughness.)
Sir Andrew: Yes!–Yes!–Ha, ha!–I’ll really tell that guy a thing or two!–What should I do when I’ve finished writing the letter?
Sir Toby: We’ll come to your room in a little while and see how you’re making out. Now you go on.
Sir Andrew: Okay! Thanks!
(Sir Andrew leaves.)
Fabian: That guy’s like a puppet, and you pull the strings.
Sir Toby: I have to. I’m practically living off him. I’m sure I’ve cost him two thousand ducats already. If he gives up and goes home, who’s going to pay for all my drinking?
Fabian: I can imagine what sort of stupid letter he’s going to write. But are you going to deliver it?
Sir Toby: I don’t mind delivering it, but it won’t amount to anything. I don’t think there’s any way the two of them would fight a duel. Andrew has the backbone of a slug. And the other guy doesn’t look like a fighter at all.
(Maria comes in.)
Sir Toby: Ah, my sweet Maria. Wassup, babe?
Maria: Malvolio has totally flipped out. He’s wearing his yellow stockings, and he’s prancing around, grinning like an idiot and talking to himself. He’s Count Malvolio now. You’ve got to see it to believe it.
Sir Toby: I want to see it. Show me.
Maria: Come on. When Lady Olivia sees him, she’ll freak.
(They go out.)
Act 3, Scene 3. Sebastian and Antonio come in. They are on a street in the town.
Sebastian: You shouldn’t have come all this way for my sake.
Antonio: I couldn’t let you go wandering in a strange country by yourself.
Sebastian: You’re a good guy. I owe you big-time. So what should we do now?
Antonio: I’ve got to see about our lodging.
Sebastian: We can do that later. We’ve got the whole day to kill. I want to see this town.
Antonio: I can’t be seen here. That’s the problem.
Sebastian: Oh, yeah. Right. Say, you didn’t kill anyone in that sea battle, did you?
Antonio: No, but I cost the Duke plenty. And I helped myself to, you know–spoils of war, right? So I’d be in deep shit if I got caught here.
Sebastian: So where should we go, then?
Antonio: There’s an inn on the south side called The Elephant. I’ll go there and arrange things for us. If you want, you can go sight-seeing. Here. Take my purse.
(He gives Antonio his purse.)
Sebastian: What for?
Antonio: In case you want to buy something.
Sebastian: You’re a pal. I’ll take good care of this, don’t worry.
Antonio: Meet me at The Elephant. Don’t be gone too long, okay?
Sebastian: Right. The Elephant. I’ll see you later.
(They leave separately.)
Act 3, Scene 4. Olivia comes in with Maria.
Olivia (Speaking confidentially so as not to be overheard): I sent for Cesario, and he’s coming. What should I serve him? What sort of present should I give him?
Maria: Well, um, I suppose–
Olivia: Where’s Malvolio?
Maria: Oh, he’s around, but he’s acting rather strangely.
Olivia: How do you mean?
Maria: Something’s come over him. He’s usually very serious, but now he’s always smiling, for no reason I can think of. Frankly, I think he’s lost his mind.
Olivia: I’d better have a word with him. Go and get him, please.
Maria: Yes, madam.
(Maria goes out. After a moment, she returns with Malvolio, who comes in with a sort of dancing gait. He’s wearing yellow stockings.)
Malvolio (Smiling): Yes, my lovely mistress!
Olivia: What are you so happy about? Have you forgotten I’m still in mourning?
Malvolio: I can be sad if you want me to be. But you know what they say–Laugh, and the world laughs with you–ha, ha!
Olivia: What’s got into you?
Malvolio: I’m merely following orders. (He grins.) Don’t you like my yellow stockings? I wore them for you.
Olivia: Have you got a fever or something? Perhaps you should go to bed.
Malvolio: To bed!–To bed!–with–well, I mustn’t say–ha, ha!
Maria: I think you’re sick, Malvolio.
Malvolio (Seriously): You should know your place when speaking to a noble like me.
Olivia: What do you mean, a noble like you?
Malvolio: It was in the letter.–“Soon you shall be as high as you deserve.”
Olivia: Are you high? Are you stoned? Is that it?
Malvolio: I deserve to be stoned if I don’t seize the day. My fate and fortune await. As if I couldn’t recognize the handwriting.–Yellow stockings, madam (He smiles and shows off his stockings).
Olivia: You are stoned, aren’t you?
(A Servant comes in.)
Servant: Madam, Count Orsino’s messenger is here. He’s waiting for you.
Olivia: I’ll be right with him.
(The Servant leaves.)
Olivia: Where’s Uncle Toby?–Maria, get a couple of servants and take care of Malvolio. He should be in bed.
(Olivia and Maria leave.)
Malvolio: M.O.A.I.! Now I know what it means! Master Of All Illyria! And that’s what I’ll be when I marry Lady Olivia! And who’s going to take care of me? No less than Sir Toby Belch, her own uncle. So it’s all true. Every word of that letter was true. I shoud start acting like a noble. Exactly. That means I can throw my weight around. Let ’em know who they’re dealing with–whom they’re dealing with.
(Maria returns with Sir Toby and Fabian.)
Sir Toby: Where is that nut?
Fabian: Malvolio, how do you feel?
Malvolio: Go away, you–servant!
Maria (To Sir Toby): He’s either stoned, or it’s demonic possession. Lady Olivia wants you to look after him.
Malvolio: Yes. Look after me, Sir Toby. I shall be master of all Illyria.
Sir Toby (Aside to Fabian and Maria): We’d better handle him gently. Leave it to me. (To Malvolio) Now, then, Malvolio, how are you feeling? If the devil has gotten into you, you can cast him out. Just say “Begone, devil!”
Malvolio (Looking directly at Sir Toby): Begone, devil!
Maria (To Sir Toby): This is a serious case.
Sir Toby: Yes, it looks that way.–Ahem–Now, then–I am speaking to the devil inside Malvolio.
Malvolio: Are you, now?
Sir Toby: Yes. You must leave him at once!
Malvolio: Ha! You can’t put me off. I have a date with destiny. It was all explained in the letter.
Sir Toby: Malvolio, you must make an effort, man! Tell that dirty devil to get out of you!
Maria: He should pray.
Sir Toby: Yes! Yes! Pray, Malvolio! Get on your knees and pray for strength, man!
Malvolio: You people are such fools. I’m superior to you.–Look. Yellow stockings–Master of all Illyria–So just be careful how you talk to me.–Now I leave you.
(He walks out.)
Sir Toby: Holy shit.
Fabian: All because of that letter.
Sir Toby: We may have gone too far.–Meaning you, Maria.
Maria: You’re in this, too. You encouraged me.
Sir Toby: True.
Maria: You should keep an eye on him. We don’t want him to say anything in front of Lady Olivia that would get us into trouble.
Sir Toby: I have an idea. We’ll tie him up and lock him in his room. I’ll tell my niece he’s stoned or something and he’s temporarily out of his mind, and it’s for his own good.
(Sir Andrew comes in.)
Sir Andrew: I finished that letter you told me to write. Have a look. Tell me what you think.
(Sir Andrew gives Sir Toby the letter.)
Sir Toby (Reading): “You miserable little pussy. I think you are a scumbag.”
Fabian: That’s a good start.
Sir Toby (Reading): “I won’t tell you why I think so.”
Fabian: Very smart. He won’t be able to sue you for slander.
Sir Toby (Reading): “So you think you can lead Lady Olivia on. I can see right through you. However, that’s not why I’m challenging you to a duel.”
Fabia: Adds a touch of mystery. Very good.
Sir Toby (Reading): “I’ll come after you when you least expect it. And if you’re lucky enough to kill me–”
Fabian: Excellent. Very intimidating.
Sir Toby (Reading): “Then you’ll be a dirty, low-down criminal.”
Fabian: Powerful. Brilliant. And you still haven’t said anything that constitutes slander.
Sir Toby (Reading): “May the better man win, which is more likely to be me. Your faithful enemy, Sir Andrew Aguecheek.”–Well!
Fabian: I should say so.–Well!
Sir Toby: Those are fighting words if ever I read any. I’ll give him the letter, Sir Andrew. Well done.
Maria: You won’t have to go far. He’s in the house right now, talking to Lady Olivia.
Sir Toby: Andrew, here’s what you do. You go wait in the garden, and when I give you the signal, you draw your sword and scream at him in a threatening way. He’ll lose his courage immediately. Now go.
Sir Andrew: Oh, I’ll scream at him, all right. I’ll scream like–like a man who really wants to scream.
Fabian: That’s the spirit, Sir Andrew!
(Sir Andrew goes out.)
Maria: You’re not really going to deliver that letter, are you?
Sir Toby: This rubbish? Good God, no. It’s so stupid, nobody would take it seriously. That young fellow is no fool. And besides, he seems decent enough. Orsino wouldn’t trust him as his messenger if he wasn’t of good character. So why insult him like this? No. What I’ll do is deliver the challenge verbally and see if I can scare him off. (To Fabian) We want both of them to be scared of each other. Get it?
Fabian: Ah. Right.
Sir Toby: The last thing I want is for somebody to get hurt.
(Olivia comes in with Viola.)
Fabian (Aside to Sir Toby): Not now. Later.
Sir Toby: Uh, yes, let’s go outside for some fresh air.–Olivia, we’ll let you have your privacy.
(Sir Toby, Fabian, and Maria leave. There is an awkward silence between Olivia and Viola. Olivia is unhappy. Viola is firm.)
Olivia: This is so painful for me–to make a fool of myself–with no consolation whatever.
Viola: Now you know how the Duke feels, madam.
Olivia: I want to give you something. (She gives Viola a locket, or similar.) It has a picture of me inside. Please take it. And I want you to come back tomorrow.–You could have anything you want from me–within reason.
Viola: What I’d want most is for you to accept Count Orsino’s love.
Olivia: How could I when I’ve already told you that I love you?
Viola: You’re excused from that.
Olivia: Well–in any case–please come back tomorrow. Good-bye.
(Viola turns toward the door, which may be suggested. Quick segue to the next scene.)
Act 3, Scene 5. A continuation of the previous scene. The break is to establish the change from indoors to outdoors. The background should be minimal. Viola has just left the house. She is accosted by Sir Toby and Fabian.
Sir Toby: A word with you, sir.
Sir Toby: It is my unpleasant duty to inform you that you have been challenged to a duel.
Viola: Me? A duel? By whom?
Sir Toby: Sir Andrew Aguecheek–a very fierce knight. Very fierce, indeed.
Fabian: A killer. That’s what he is.
Viola: But I don’t want to fight a duel. Tell Lady Olivia I want an escort.
Sir Toby: Too late for that, I’m afraid. You’ve offended this–this horribly deadly knight.
Fabian: Horribly deadly.
Sir Toby: And either you take your sword out and be a man or die like a coward.
Viola: But this is a mistake. What have I done?
Sir Toby: I don’t know specifically.
Viola: Well, I think I’m entitled to know.
Sir Toby: I’ll go and ask.–Mr. Fabian, stay here until I return.
(Sir Toby leaves.)
Viola: Do you know what this is about?
Fabian: Not really. Only that the knight is very angry and intends to fight you. And he’ll almost certainly kill you. He’s the most evil, blood-thirsty killer in the country. His sword is like lightning.
Viola: But–but can’t you reason with him? Can’t you explain to him it’s all a mistake?
Fabian: Well, maybe. You come along with me.
(Fabian and Viola leave, in the same direction as Sir Toby’s exit. Now Fabian and Viola must be moved to the other side by a very quick break, or by other means. What will follow is two separate conversations seen alternately. Sir Toby and Sir Andrew will come in and go out on one side, and Viola and Fabian will use the other side. Sir Toby now returns with Sir Andrew.)
Sir Toby: Oh, that fellow is a devil! It’s no good screaming at him. The moment I looked in his eyes, I knew he was big trouble.
Sir Andrew: Oh, no!
Sir Toby: And–it turns out he was a fencing instructor for the Persian army.
Sir Andrew: Oh, my God! I can’t fight him!
Sir Toby: But he’s very angry because of your letter. Fabian is trying to calm him down, but I don’t know if he can.
Sir Andrew: Oh, my God! Oh, my God! I never imagined–Look, you’ve got to get me out of this. Tell him I want to forget the whole thing. Tell him I’m sorry. Tell him I’ll give him my best horse.
Sir Toby: I’ll see what I can do. You just try and calm down–and stop shaking, for God’s sake.
(Sir Toby and Sir Andrew leave. Then Sir Toby returns to meet Fabian coming in from the other side.)
Sir Toby: He’s willing to give up his best horse to avoid a duel. I told him the other guy is an expert swordsman.
Fabian: Ha! I don’t think he ever held a sword in his life. He’s so scared he’s ready to faint.
Sir Toby: Let me talk to him.
(Fabian beckons to Viola, who comes in, obviously frightened.)
Sir Toby: There’s nothing you can do about it, sir. He issued the challenge, and now it’s a matter of honour.
Viola (Moaning): Ohhh–
Sir Toby: However–
Sir Toby: He’s had a chance to think it over, and he has decided that your offense was only a slight one and not worth anyone’s death. Therefore, for the sake of honour for both of you, you will both draw your swords and duel very gently for one round, and he promises not to hurt you.
Viola (Aside to the audience): What should I do, tell them I’m really a woman?
Fabian (Indicating Viola): He needs a minute or two to think it over.
(Fabian and Sir Toby wink at each other. Fabian leads Viola out. Sir Toby goes out and returns with Sir Andrew.)
Sir Toby: I’m afraid you’re going to have to go through with it.
Sir Andrew: Oh, God!
Sir Toby: However, your apology has been noted. So the gentleman promises not to hurt you. You’ll just spar for one round for the sake of form. Not serious fighting, just touching swords.
Sir Andrew: Are you sure about this?
Sir Toby: Yes, yes.
(Sir Toby leads Sir Andrew out. Then Viola and Sir Andrew come in timidly from opposite sides with their swords out. Fabian and Sir Toby follow but remain behind. The two combatants, both frightened, raise their swords and nervously strike a few very feeble flows. Then, quite suddenly, Antonio rushes in, sword drawn, and threatens Sir Andrew.)
Antonio: Back off, mister! If you’ve got a problem with my friend, you can settle it with me!
Sir Toby: Who the hell are you?
Antonio: None of your business!
Sir Toby: Well, he’s my friend (Indicating Sir Andrew), so it is my business!
(Sir Toby draws his sword. He and Antonio are just about to clash when three Officers rush in.)
First Officer: Put your swords down, all of you! (Indicating Antonio to the Second Officer) He’s the one. He’s Antonio.
Second Officer (To Antonio): You’re under arrest.
Antonio: For what?
Second Officer: Acts of war against the Duke of Illyria, Count Orsino.
Antonio: No! You’ve got the wrong guy!
First Officer: No, we’ve got the right guy. I recognize you.
Antonio (To Viola): I came looking for you because you didn’t show up at the inn. Now look what’s happened. I have to ask for my purse back.
First Officer (To Viola): Do you know this man?
Viola: No. I’ve never seen him before.
Antonio: What! After all I’ve done for you? You pretend you don’t know me?
Viola: I don’t know what you’re talking about, sir. If you need some money, I’ll lend you some, but I–
Antonio: What did you do with my money? You spent it on those clothes, didn’t you?
Viola: Certainly not.
Second Officer (Grabbing Antonio): Come on. Get moving.
Antonio: Wait a minute. I saved this guy from drowning. I took care of him.
First Officer: Yeah, yeah. Get moving.
Antonio (To Viola): Sebastian, I never imagined you’d turn out to be such a false friend. You should be ashamed.
First Officer: Enough! Get moving!
(The Officers take Antonio out.)
Viola (To herself): He called me Sebastian.–Then is my brother still alive?
(Viola leaves. Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Fabian regard her contemptuously.)
Sir Toby: What a creep! He pretended not to know his friend.
Fabian: I’ll bet he did some acts of war himself, and he doesn’t want the Duke to find out.
Sir Toby: I wouldn’t be surprised.
Sir Andrew: He’s a coward.
Fabian: You said it.
Sir Andrew: He’s a scoundrel. I should go after him and give him a good beating. Teach him a lesson.
Sir Toby: So you want to fight him after all, do you? All right, but don’t you touch your sword.
Act 4, Scene 1. Sebastian comes in, with the Fool following.
Sebastian: Will you get away from me, you jerk!
Fool: I’m not a jerk. I’m a fool, so show some respect. My lady sent me to get you.
Sebastian: I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, but you sure are a fool.
Fool: And you certainly are Cesario, and don’t pretend you’re not.
Sebastian: I’ve never heard of Cesario, and I don’t know who your lady is.
Fool: You don’t? Do you want me to tell her you deny even knowing her?
Sebastian (Holding out a coin): Here. Go buy a lollipop. Just fuck off.
(Sir Andrew, Sir Toby, and Fabian come in.)
Sir Andrew: There he is–in different clothes! (To Sebastian) Thought you could get away from me, did you, you bastard? Well, here’s what you get!
(He punches Sebastian. Sebastian retaliates immediately and knocks Sir Andrew down.)
Sir Toby: Hey, you!
(Sir Toby grapples with Sebastian.)
Fool: Uh, oh! Lady Olivia isn’t gonna like this.
(The Fool leaves quickly.)
Sir Andrew: Don’t fight him, Toby! I’ll sue the bastard for assault!
(Sebastian and Sir Toby continue to struggle. Sebastian breaks free and draws his sword.)
Sebastian: Is this what you want?
Sir Toby: You messenger boy! I’ll teach you!
(Sir Toby draws his sword. Then Olivia arrives.)
Olivia: Stop, Toby! Put down that sword!
(Sir Toby puts down his sword.)
Sir Toby: But this guy hit Sir Andrew!
Olivia: I’ve had it with you! You can pack your bags and get out!
(Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Fabian leave. Olivia now goes to Sebastian and takes him by the hand.)
Olivia: I’m sorry about this. Please don’t be upset. Come back to the house with me. I’ll tell you about my stupid uncle and how he’s been driving me crazy.
Sebastian (Aside to the audience): What the hell? Is everyone in this town crazy?
Olivia: Oh, please come back. Do it to make me happy.
Sebastian: Make you happy? Of course, madam. I’ll be very happy to make you happy.
Olivia: Oh, thank you! Thank you!
Act 4, Scene 2. Malvolio is lying on a bed, tied up, on one side of the stage, which is dark. This represents his darkened room. The opposite side of the stage is moderately lit, and this is outside the room. The door is merely suggested. Maria and the Fool come in at the lit side. She gives him a robe and a fake beard.
Maria: Here. Put these on. You’ve got to be the priest. You’re Father Topas. I’ll go get Toby.
(Maria leaves. The Fool puts on the disguise.)
Fool: Ha! A fool disguising himself as a priest. I hope I can be as good a priest as a priest is a fool. Well, whatever helps a sick man.
(Maria returns with Sir Toby.)
Sir Toby (Loudly enough to be heard by Malvolio): Father Topas! How good of you to come. The lunatic is inside. I hope you can help him.
Fool (Speaking as Father Topas): Not so loud! There’s a sick man inside!
Malvolio: Who’s there? Who’s shouting?
(The Fool enters the room.)
Fool: It is Father Topas. Just try to be calm, sir.
Malvolio: Oh, Father Topas! Please! You must bring Lady Olivia!
Fool: No, no. That’s the demon inside you speaking. We will not disturb the lady of the house, you demon.
Sir Toby (To the audience): Heh, heh. This guy’s great, isn’t he?
Malvolio: Father Topas, you must listen! They tied me up and put me in this dark room! They want everyone to think I’m crazy! But I’m not!
Fool: That’s just what I’d expect the devil to say. I know all about the devil and his demons. They’re all liars. Saying this room is dark–ha!
Malvolio: But it is dark. Can’t you see that it’s dark?
Fool: No. Can you?
Malvolio: Yes! I can see perfectly!
Fool: If you can see perfectly, then it can’t be dark, can it?
Malvolio: But it is!
Fool: Perhaps you’ve gone blind.
Malvolio: No, no, I’m not blind.
Fool: Then you must be insane. That’s the only logical explanation.
Malvolio: I’m not insane, and I’ll prove it to you. Ask me any simple question.
Fool: All right. How many legs does a horse have if you call the tail a leg?
Malvolio: Em–well–I suppose five.
Fool: Wrong. Four. Calling the tail a leg doesn’t make it one.
Malvolio: But you said–
Fool: I’m sorry, but you’re simply not in your right mind. This is an obvious case of demonic possession. I’ve seen it before.
Malvolio: No! No! No!–
Fool: I’m afraid you’ll just have to sit here in your imaginary darkness until you’ve cast the devil out of your brain.
Malvolio: But you’ve got to listen to me–
Fool: You mustn’t argue with me. I’ve been to divinity school. There’s nothing higher than that. Now, you just lie down and I’ll come back and check on you later.
(The Fool rejoins Sir Toby and Maria outside the room.)
Sir Toby (To the Fool): That was perfect. But we can’t keep him here forever. I’m already in trouble with my niece.–Mm–See if you can find some way of–you know–getting him back to normal.–Oh, hell, just get me out of this mess. Smooth it over somehow.
(Sir Toby and Maria leave.)
Fool (Singing in his normal voice):
Home, home on the range,
Where the deer and the antelope play–
Malvolio: Fool, is that you?
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word–
And the skies are not cloudy all day.
Malvolio: Fool! I know that’s you!
Fool: Who’s shouting in there? My goodness.
Malvolio: It’s me! Malvolio!
Fool: Malvolio! Good lord! What’s the matter, man? Did you lose your mind?
Malvolio: No! I’m just as sane as you are!
Fool: Oh, dear, then you are in trouble.
Malvolio: It’s a conspiracy! They want everyone to think I’m insane! The priest is in on it, too!
Fool: Shh! Be careful what you say. The priest just came back. (Speaking as Father Topas) Don’t talk to that man! He’s possessed by the devil! (Speaking as himself) Who, me? Oh, no, father. (Speaking as Father Topas) The devil is dangerous! (Speaking as himself) Yes, Father. Thank you. Bless you, Father. (Speaking as Father Topas) In God we trust. Good-bye. (Speaking as himself) Yes, Father. In God we trust–all others pay cash. Good-bye.
Malvolio: Fool! Yo!
Fool: Shh!–There. You see? I almost got in trouble for talking to you.
Malvolio: Listen to me. You’ve got to help me. Get me a candle and some paper and ink so I can write a letter to Lady Olivia. If you do this for me, I’ll give you a big reward.
Fool: All right, sir. But tell me–were you just pretending to be crazy?
Malvolio: Certainly not!–I mean–God damn it, you know what I mean!
Fool: I probably shouldn’t trust a man who believes in five-legged horses–but–you bribed me into it.
Malvolio: Please hurry!
Fool: Yes, yes. Just take it easy. I’ll be right back. (The Fool goes out singing)
Home, home on the range,
Where the deer and the antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
(Fading) And the skies are not cloudy all day.
Act 4, Scene 3. Sebastian is at Olivia’s home but outdoors.
Sebastian (Looking up at the sky and all around): What a strange country this is. I come here as a stranger, I get assaulted for no reason, and a lady acts like she loves me and gives me a pearl. (He regards the pearl.) I wish Antonio were here. He could probably explain it all to me. Wonder where he is anyway. I went to The Elephant, and they said he went out looking for me. (He regards the pearl again.) This is worth a lot. She’s either crazy or–no, I don’t think she’s crazy.–Am I crazy?–No, I’m not crazy either.
(Olivia comes in with a Priest.)
Olivia: I’ve brought a priest. I couldn’t wait. Don’t be angry.
Sebastian: I’m not angry. But what’s the priest for?
Olivia (Taking it as a joke): Oh!–As if you couldn’t guess. (Seriously) If you accept me–and I mean really and truly accept me–we can be married right away. Of course, we’ll keep it a secret until you’re ready to tell everyone. Then we can have a proper celebration. Is that all right with you?
Sebastian (Aside to the audience): If I say no to this, then I really am crazy. (To Olivia) Yes, yes, and double yes. I’ll marry you. Gladly.
Olivia (To the Priest): Let’s go to the chapel right now, Father.
(They all leave.)
Act 5, Scene 1. Outside Lady Olivia’s house. The Fool and Fabian come in.
Fabian: Aw, come on, let me see Malvolio’s letter.
Fool: Nope. It’s not addressed to you.
Fabian: Come on. I thought we were friends.
Fool: Yes, but bribery comes before friendship. It’s a matter of honour.
(Orsino, Viola, Valentine, and Curio come in. Valentine and Curio have no lines in this scene.)
Orsino: Ah, my friend the Fool. How are you?
Fool: I feel more like I do now.
Orsino (Puzzled): Oh? How do you mean?
Fool: I used to feel the way I did, but not as much.
Orsino: Oh–And is it better now?
Fool: It’s too soon to say. Prematurity is the mother of disappointment. And the father does not wish to be identified.
(Orsino exchanges puzzled looks with the others.)
Orsino: Indeed.–Well, well–(Laughs) I hardly know what to make of you sometimes, but here’s something to encourage you in your higher studies. (He gives the Fool a coin.)
Fool: You are too kind, my lord.
Orsino: Now please tell your mistress I’d like to see her.
Fool: Anything for you, my lord.
(The Fool goes out. Then the Officers appear with Antonio.)
Viola (To Orsino): This is the man I told you about, my lord. He saved me from a duel.
Orsino: I know this guy. He’s an enemy of mine. He attacked one of my ships.–Officers, where’d you find this guy?
First Officer: My lord, this is Antonio. He’s wanted by the state.
Orsino: Yes, I know who he is.
First Officer: We arrested him in the street. He was fighting with two gentlemen.
Viola (To Orsino): My lord, he protected me when I was challenged to a duel–but then he said some strange things I couldn’t understand–as if I was supposed to know him.
Orsino (To Antonio): So you’ve come back to cause me more trouble, eh? Antonio the pirate–the thief.
Antonio: Just because I fought against you in a time of war, that doesn’t make me a pirate or a thief. And I didn’t come back to cause any trouble. I came back for the sake of that young gentleman. I already saved his life once before. And I followed him here to make sure he’d be safe. And then some jerk drew a sword on him, and I jumped in to intervene. But when the officers showed up, he pretended not to know me. And he had my purse, too–which I had loaned him. And he pretended not to know about that either.
Viola: It’s not possible.
Orsino (To Antonio): Tell me, when did he get here?
Antonio: Just today. Before that, we were together for three months.
(Olivia comes in with Attendants.)
Orsino: My Countess! Just a moment. (To Antonio) You’re either insane, or you’re a damned liar. This man has been with me for the past three months. (To the Officers) I’ll deal with him in a minute.
(The Officers move apart with Antonio.)
Olivia: Excuse me, my lord. (To Viola) Cesario, where have you been? I’ve been looking for you.
Viola: For me?–Uh–
Olivia: My dear Olivia, I wanted to say–
Olivia: Cesario, answer me. I want an explanation.
Viola: My lord was about to speak, madam.
Olivia (To Orsino): Whatever it is, I don’t want to hear it.
Orsino: But you will hear it! Olivia, I’ve opened my heart to you, not once, but many times. What do I have to do, cut open my veins and give you my blood?
Olivia: Oh, please–that’s foolish talk coming from a duke.
Orsino: I’ve finally figured out that you love Cesario. But you can’t have him. And I’ll see to it that you never see him again. (To Viola) Come with me.
Viola: Gladly, my lord.
Olivia: Cesario! Where are you going?
Viola: I’m following the master I love, as God is my witness.
Olivia: What! How could you do this to me? Why have you tricked me?
Viola: I, madam? Tricked you? I’ve done nothing at all.
Olivia: Nothing at all? (To an Attendant) Go and get the priest right now!
(The Attendant leaves.)
Orsino (To Viola): Just ignore her. Let’s go.
Olivia: Cesario! You can’t leave me! You’re my husband!
Orsino: Husband? Are you crazy?
Olivia: Ask him. He can’t deny it.
Orsino: Cesario, are you married to Olivia?
Viola: No. Certainly not.
Olivia (To Viola): Are you afraid to tell him? Don’t be afraid.
(The Priest arrives with the Attendant.)
Olivia: Father, would you please tell the Duke about me and Cesario. We can’t keep it a secret any more.
Priest (To Orsino): My lord, the Countess and this gentleman were married just two hours ago. I performed the ceremony myself.
Orsino (To Viola): You liar! This is how you repay my kindness? I trusted you.–Go on, then. Go with her. And good luck to you. But I never want to see your face again.
Viola: But it’s not true, my lord!
(Sir Andrew comes in, agitated.)
Sir Andrew: Help! Someone call a doctor! Sir Toby’s hurt!
Olivia: What happened?
Sir Andrew (Pointing at Viola): He struck Sir Toby on the head–and he hurt me, too!
Olivia: Who did?
Sir Andrew (Pointing frantically at Viola): He did! The Duke’s messenger–whatsisname–Cesario! We thought he was a twerp, but he’s a damned ruffian!
Orsino: Are you kidding?
Viola (To Sir Andrew): I never touched you! You drew your sword, and I drew mine, but I never hurt you.
Sir Andrew: What do you call this? (He shows a bruise on his head.) You gave me this bruise!
(Sir Toby hobbles in, leaning on the Fool.)
Sir Andrew: Sir Toby will tell you. If he hadn’t been drunk, he’d have given Cesario a proper beating, that’s for sure.
Orsino: Sir Toby, are you badly hurt?
Sir Toby: Yes, my lord–and that servant of yours is going to pay for it. (To the Fool) Where’s the doctor?
Fool: He was too drunk to come.
Sir Toby: Drunk? God, I hate drunks!
Olivia: Get him to bed and do whatever you can for him.
(The Fool, Fabian, and Sir Andrew leave, helping Sir Toby. Then Sebastian comes in. Olivia reacts with shock, looking back and forth from Sebastian to Viola. Viola also stares agape, too shocked to speak. So does Antonio, who is apart.)
Sebastian: I’m sorry I hurt your uncle, Olivia, but he and his friend started it.–Please don’t look at me like that. I said I was sorry.–Come on, we just got married.
(Orsino studies Sebastian closely and looks back and forth between him and Viola.)
Orsino: It’s uncanny. You two look so much alike.
(Sebastian suddenly notices Antonio.)
Sebastian: Antonio! Thank God you’re all right! I was worried about you.
Sebastian: Of course, I’m Sebastian–ha, ha! What a question!
Olivia: Oh!–You’re not–I thought–(She is momentarily faint, and he steadies her. Sebastian now notices Viola. They look at each other. Dead silence on the stage for a moment.)
Sebastian (To Viola): If I had a brother, you’d be him. I had a sister, but she died–in a shipwreck.
Viola: I had a brother–a twin–and he died in a shipwreck. (Pause) Have you come back from the dead, Sebastian? Or are you really alive?
(Sebastian looks at Viola intensely. There is a pause before he speaks.)
Sebastian: I would have been dead–if Antonio hadn’t saved me.
Orsino (To Antonio): Is that true?
Antonio: Yes, but I thought–(He points from Sebastian to Viola.) Then who is this? (Indicating Viola.)
Sebastian (Tentatively): Viola?
Viola (Crying): Yes!
Orsino: What? Who’s Viola?
Viola: I am, my lord. Sebastian and I are twins. We were wrecked, and I thought he had drowned. I disguised myself as a man for my own safety and came here. (To Sebastian) Everyone thought I was Cesario.
(Fabian and the Fool return. The Fool presents Olivia with Malvolio’s letter.)
Fool: Madam, I meant to give you this before, but–in all the excitement–Anyway, it’s from Malvolio.
(She takes the letter.)
Olivia: The poor man. I’d almost forgotten about him. Is he all right?
Fool: I’d say he’s somewhere between calm and deranged.
(Olivia reads the letter.)
Olivia: Oh, dear–oh, dear–says he’s been treated badly–he got a letter from me.–What letter? I never sent him a letter.–Mm–he blames me–very unhappy–says he’s as sane as anyone else–once again, “badly treated”–Oh, dear. I have to get this sorted out. (To Fabian) Go and get him, would you?
Fabian: Yes, madam.
Orsino: Viola–you said something before. You said you were following the master you loved, as God was your witness.
Viola: Yes, my lord.
Orsino: And yet–you carried my messages of love to Olivia and pleaded with her in my behalf.
Viola: I put your happiness ahead of mine.
Orsino: How incredibly–noble.
(He holds her hands, and they look into each other’s eyes lovingly.)
Olivia: My lord, if you marry Viola, you get to have me as your sister-in-law.
Olivia: You can get married here tomorrow. And we’ll have a big celebration for the four of us.
Orsino: Yes! We’ll do it!
(Fabian returns with Malvolio.)
Olivia: Oh, Malvolio! How are you feeling?
Malvolio: Madam–I’m–very–very–disappointed–with you.
Olivia: What did I do?
(Malvolio hands Olivia the fake letter forged by Maria.)
Malvolio: You left this letter in the path for me to find. It’s in your handwriting. (Olivia is reading the letter silently.) And all things you wrote–which I believed–and I made a fool of myself–that M.O.A.I. business–and the yellow stockings–and seize the day.–And then everyone thought I was crazy, and I was tied up in the dark in my room.
Olivia: I didn’t write this. The handwriting looks like mine–but it isn’t. And I think I know whose it is.–Maria.–Malvolio, I’m very sorry for what you’ve been through. It’s clear to me now that you are the victim of an elaborate hoax.–And when I find out who’s involved, I will deal with them.
Fabian (Clears his throat nervously): Um–madam–if I might say something–um–I must confess that Sir Toby and I and Maria were all in on it. We were getting rather annoyed with Malvolio, and we wanted to play a trick on him. However–Sir Toby is very sorry, and Maria is sorry, too–And Sir Toby has promised to be good from now on–and–he and Maria got married.
Olivia: They did?
Fabian: Yes, madam.–Actually, he married her as a reward for writing the letter.
Fabian: Yes. And it’s a wonderful thing, don’t you think, madam?
Olivia (Ambiguously): Mmm.
Fabian: We’re always happy when people get married, aren’t we? So we should just–you know–be happy about everyone getting married, and forget about any hurt feelings and–after all, it’s not as if anyone died or anything, ha, ha–just a little joke–and maybe it went a bit too far, but we should just get over it–and–(Clears his throat) no one should be punished–madam.
Olivia (To Malvolio): You poor man. You’ve been so humiliated.
Malvolio (To Fabian): I’ll get even! I’ll get even!
(Malvolio storms out, ranting “I’ll get even with all of them! I’ll get even!”)
Orsino (To Viola): You’re going to need a whole new wardrobe!
(They all go out except the Fool. He takes out a flute, pitch pipe, or similar, and blows a few notes to warm up before he sings the folowing song. A simple piano background is recommended. Write your own music.)
When ketchup is a vegetable
And men can marry men,
Then anything is possible,
So call it what you will.
And everything you’ve seen and heard,
Of which you were quite sure,
May turn out yet to be absurd,
So call it what you will.
(In ancient Greece
They knew no peace
Because their arguments filled wax up in their ears,
They wrote big books
For us to read,
And now philosophy professors have such fine careers.)
The experts tell us what to think,
Or else we wouldn’t know,
It is because they say it is,
And call it what you will.
If you’re unhappy, see a shrink,
He’ll write a note for you,
You’ll get a pension every month,
And call it what you will.
(The Vandals came
To visit Rome,
They liked it well enough to call it home.
They’re coming still
From sea to sea,
It’s what we like to call diversity.)
We’re lemmings rushing to the sea,
Caught up in our insanity,
It’s fine as long as we agree,
And call it what you will.
The dear, old playwright had his say…
His spirit never went away…
We changed the words but not the plot…
The world looks better, but it’s not…
And anyway, it’s all we’ve got…
So call it what you will.
Copyright@ 2011 by Crad Kilodney. E-mail: email@example.com