« An Odd Question | Main | Open and yet somehow opaque »

Cross-casting the day

In honor of Three Kings Day, here’s a question: How well would a gender-swapped Twelfth Night work?

Well. Start with Viola, who I’ll call… not Violo, because that’s terrible. Vincent? Vikram? Vidor? Yeah, let’s go with Vidor, I like that. He’s a young fellow who spends most of the play in drag, because funny, and I think it would actually be funny. He’s got a crush on the Duchess Orsino Organa, who is constantly brooding over the rich and single Count Oliver, and that’s all right. The problem is that when Count Oliver falls for Vidor (in drag as, er, Celeste) and pursues her (well, him) it seems creepy rather than funny. At least, I’m having trouble imagining it being funny and not on some level scary and, well, rapey.

The real problem, though, is Malvolia. Not that Malvolio isn’t already a problem, but Malvolia would be worse. Oh, her first scenes, where she is officious and arrogant, would be great, and I’m not sure that the letter scene (which my Best Reader described with some accuracy as cyber-bullying) wouldn’t work just fine. The cross-garter scene would go from igry to demeaning for everyone, though, and as for the prison-and-fake-exorcism scene, well, the show isn’t a comedy anymore, is it.

I do, however, think that Dame Tori Belch and Lady Angela Agueface would be outstanding, and the ending where Dame Tori marries Marco the handyman would work just fine. It might be good to swap those even in a production that leaves the rest alone, but it might require too much violence to the text. Worth looking at, though.

OK, the point though is obviously the dream cast. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler alternate nights as Dame Tori and Lady Angela, right? Marco is a great part, shouldn’t be too young or conventionally good-looking… James Corden? He’s awfully likable. The Duchess Organa is all broody and moody and dark but still funny, so let’s try Michelle Gomez. Since I have a problem with Count Oliver being a baddie, we have to make him absurdly likable, too, so let’s just put Martin Freeman in the role, and then for Vidor/Celeste I am surprisingly not going to pick Eddie Redmayne but DJ Qualls. He’s too old? Is Freddie Highmore doing anything these days? OK, here’s one from Downton: Michael “illiterate Andy” Fox. What do you think?

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


I wonder if it'd be more fun to bend it rather than swap it, and make everyone the same gender. Or ambiguously androgynous, and then cast whoever you want. :^)

Androgyny would kinda ruin the central plot point and a lot of the jokes, which depend on a highly gendered hetero-normative society. On the other hand, that does mean that your first idea for making everyone the same gender might be really good… if, for instance, we make Illyria an all-female enclave for some reason, then (a) it makes sense for shipwrecked masculine Vidor to disguise himself in drag, and (2) Olivia's pursuit of Vidor-Celeste would be funny again, maybe. You lose at least part of the joke of Duke Orsino Duchess Organa being confused by his her attraction to the new pageboygirl, though. Hm. Also, it would have a lot of fun with Antonio/Sebastian (assuming you keep Antonio as male-gendered, as an outsider), or I guess I mean Antonio/Sabrina, and also the whole Antonio/Orsino (or Antonio/Organa) thing as well.


Comments are closed for this entry. Usually if I close comments for an entry it's because that entry gets a disproportionate amount of spam. If you want to contact me about this entry, feel free to send me email.