I’ve seen Mark Rylance in La Bete, Jerusalem, and I usually think of him as the greatest Shakespearean actor I have ever seen on stage. Now having seen him in my first Shakespeare play of his — I am convinced he is the greatest actor I’ve ever seen on stage.
The cast had many standouts. All standouts. Aguecheek, Feste, Maria — just to name a few, but every single man on stage deserves all the praise, goodwill, and respect I can muster in a meager blog post.
I’d recently seen a production of this play at The Folger theatre in DC. I enjoyed myself immensely; i remember one of my mates said it was the best production of the play she’s ever seen; I laughed, I smiled, and reeled back in horror. I tended to agree with my mate.
Then last night happened. What this Twelfth Night lacked in finesse, sleekness and style, it made up for in soul. If there are any out there who do not believe in a soul, or are merely curious as to what it looks like when someone speaks from that part of your being I encourage you to visit The Belasco theatre and watch the clown sing “O, Mistress mine where are you roaming?”
In most Shakespeare plays when the music comes you get the feeling the action stops and now it’s time for a song. This was not so. There were times the fool did not like being the fool. Yet, the fool he was. He sang to a woman he knew very well and who he will probably never see again and it broke my heart.
I sat in a section called stage seating. I watched the actors getting their costumes taken off as I left my seat after the curtain call, and one of them said “Well you’ve seen us — now it’s an extrasensory performance — you can smell us,” I smiled and followed the usher out and then the other actors I passed thanked me for attending the show. They thanked me.These are some of the best actors I will ever see, and they have so much class. So much grace. They make me proud of our profession.
Then I hope they all went down the street and got schnockered.