Hello, everybody; ModernDayBard here with the final chapter of Illyrian Madness! I know this is early, but my summer job starts tomorrow, and will leave me with no time to post for the rest o the summer, so I wanted to get this chapter out to you guys before then, since it's already written.
This has been a lot of fun to write, both because I love the play itself, and I love reliving one of my favorite high school productions I was ever a part of. If you guys liked this, and want me to take on other plays in the same way, let me know!
Disclaimer: The plot and characters of Twelfth Night belong to William Shakespeare, the dialogue (in bold) is from Spark Note's No Fear Shakespeare series, and the production I base my descriptions on was the 2012 Cornerstone Youth Theater Program version. The only things I claim to own are the backstories I invented for these characters, and the words with which I narrate.
This is the eighteenth picture: Once again, we are in the garden courtyard before Olivia's door, but now in the late evening, if the lengthening shadows are any true indicator of the passage of time. Other than that, little to nothing seems to have changed about this location since the previous scene, and it seems that the resolution of this little drama and its parallel stories will take place in this place between the public road and private residence.
We take all this in a few brief moments, then the spell is broken and the picture springs to life, as Feste, a single piece of paper in hand, makes his way out of the house, deftly evading Fabian's pursuit and grabbing hand.
As the jester dodged him for the seventh time, Fabian fell back onto good-natured begging: "If you're my friend, you'll let me see his letter!" he called, desperate for the laugh that Malvolio's 'mad ramblings' would surely bring.
Feste stopped, turning to face the servant behind him, nodding gravely. "Dear Mr. Fabian, do me another favor first."
"Anything!" The brown-haired young man promised, already starting to reach out towards the offered letter.
The jester abruptly snatched it away and turned, calling over his shoulder: "Don't ask to see this letter."
Fabian froze, frowning as the fool's improbable 'logic' sunk in. Knowing he was beaten, he stalked a few feet away, grumbling, "That's like giving someone a dog as a present, then asking for the dog back in return."
Feste hid a smile from his friend—truly, though Fabian rarely had a quick retort, he was at least quick enough to get the joke in the first place, thus he had a higher standing in the local fool's regard than he knew. Before either man could continue the jest or begin a new one, they were interrupted by the arrival of none other than Duke Orsino himself, flanked on one side by the white-clad figure of Cesario, on the other hand by his first messenger Valentine, and followed by Curio and a handful of other servants, all dressed in the same exotic finery Orsino had come to favor in recent years.
The Duke's eyes quickly rested on the two men who both had turned to face him, and he asked in a commanding, but not unfriendly tone: "My friends, are you all Lady Olivia's servants?"
All of us are, but we are not all, the Feste couldn't help but think, though aloud he only said: "Yes, sir, we're part of her entourage."
"I know you," Orsino declared after regarding the speaker. Smiling, he asked. "How are you my friend?"
Now certain the duke was, in fact, in the mood for jests and fancy speech, Feste doffed his bowler hat and made a bow. Standing upright, he grinned broadly and declared. "I'm better off because of my enemies, and worse off because of my friends." The last part was aimed at Fabian for sake of the jest and out of no ill-will, and the servant huffed and took a few steps away.
"You mean it the other way around. You're better off because of your friends," Orsino corrected, not knowing what prior conversation he'd interrupted, but determined to be a diplomatic peace maker.
The fool shook his head, refusing to relinquish his joke before the punchline had been delivered. "No sir, worse off."
"How can that be?" Orsino asked, eager to hear how the fool would spin this one. Nor was he to be disappointed...
"Well, my friends praise me and make me look like an idiot, while my enemies tell me straightforwardly that I am an idiot. My enemies help me understand myself better, which is an advantage, and my friends help me lie about myself, which is a disadvantage."
Orsino chuckled along with his entourage, shaking his head as he drew a coin from the pouch at his belt—such skill deserved reward. "You won't be worse off because of me: here's some money." Then, remembering why he had come there in the first place, he added, "If you tell your lady I'm here to speak with her, and bring her out with you when you come back, you might make me more generous."
"I'll be back, sir, to wake up your generosity," the fool replied, making his way back into the house once more.
As those outside awaited his return, Viola spotted the two officers from before approaching, still leading the familiar stranger between them. Clearing her throat to get the duke's attention, she pointed out the trio and reminded him of her earlier report: "Here comes the man who rescued me, sir."
Orsino turned as the man was led before him—rather than letting himself be dragged in an undignified manner, the dark-haired man marched stiff and straight, despite having his hands cuffed behind him at this point. The duke marched closer, stopping a few feet from the prisoner. "I remember his face well, though the last time I saw him it was black from the smoke of war."
"Orsino this is the same Antonio who captured the ship the Tiger during the battle where your nephew Titus lost his leg. We arrested him in streets," the first officer reported. "It's as if he didn't care we are on the lookout for him here."
Desperate that the man not suffer on her account—since it was in helping her that he was caught, Viola again told her story, though in shorter summary this time: "He was kind to me and took my side in the fight. But then he said strange things to me. He might be insane. I don't know what else it could be." Well, she did, but that was an 'else' she dared not to hope for.
"You're a famous pirate!" Orsino challenged. "A master thief of the seas! What made you stupid and careless enough to come visit the people you robbed and slaughtered?"
That challenge was too much for Antonio to continue to hold his tongue—more had been lost in the battle for the Tiger than a measly leg, and it was not Antonio that had taken a young boy's life! "Orsino, sir, I was never a thief or a pirate, though I admit I was your enemy for good reasons." He turned his glare upon Sebastian—who seemed to be quite friendly with Orsino: did his treachery know no bounds of modest limit? "I came here because someone put a spell on me. I rescued that ungrateful boy next to you from drowning. For his sake I ran the risk of revisiting this unfriendly town, and I drew my sword to defend him when he was in trouble. But when the police caught us, he was clever and treacherous enough to pretend he'd never met me before. He acted like someone who barely knew me. He refused to give me my own wallet, which I had lent him only half an hour before."
"How is that possible?" Viola muttered, wondering how a tale could be both so truthful and so false—the duel went exactly as he explained, though all the rest were wild fancies and blatantly untrue.
Orsino, no unfair man, frowned at his one-time enemy. What he knew of Cesario told him the boy would never act in such a way, and yet Antonio spoke as one passed all bounds of doubt. But the timelines just didn't match... "When did he come to town?"
"Today, my lord," Antonio answered without hesitation. "And for three months before that, we spent every day and night together."
There was a muttering in the duke's entourage—Cesario had been amongst them for three months, so how could this fellow possibly think the lad had been with him? Viola, for her part, held her tongue, but could not deny the hopeful rush in her hart at his words—was it possible?
But whatever was to come of that confrontation was not to be known, for the arrival of Olivia and her ladies-in-waiting put an end to it prematurely. Orsino noted her entrance and dramatically declared. "Ah, the countess is coming! An angel is walking on earth." He turned his attention back to Antonio, waving his hand dismissively. "But as for you, mister, what you're saying is insane. This young man has worked for me for three months; but more about that later." The duke turned to the officers, snapping the order: "Take him away."
As the two complied by taking a position several yards away and Antonio did not resist, Olivia drew near to the duke's entourage, neither noting nor commenting on the previous drama. "What can I give you, my lord, except the one thing you can't have?" she asked, knowing full well the reason for his visit. This would end his suit once and for all, and though she'd enjoyed their little game, the time had come to turn her mind to other matters, and so she turned to her husband and began a different rebuke: "Cesario, you missed your appointment with me."
Viola's confused question was uttered in the same moment that Orsino began to speak again. "Dearest Olivia—"
"What do you have to say for yourself, Cesario?" Olivia demanded, before glaring at the duke's interruption. "My lord, please."
Viola has to lock her knees to resist the urge to step quickly out of the way. "My lord wants to speak," she explained, looking away. "It's my duty to be quiet." Perhaps Orsino could say or do something that would cause Olivia to forgo her doomed pursuit.
It seemed that the duke had to be dealt with first, then. Why did Cesario still defer to Orsino? Now that he was her husband, he was a count, and the duke's near-equal. Still, she admired his honor and duty, she supposed. "If what you have to say is anything like what you used to say, it'll be as repulsive to my ears as wild screams after beautiful music."
"Are you still so cruel?" Orsino demanded, taken aback that his own presence did not change the woman's tune. Didn't this show how devoted he was to his suit?
Olivia shook her head, smiling at Cesario, who would best understand her meaning. "I am still so faithful, my lord."
"What, faithful to being mean and nasty? You're not polite! I breathed from my soul the most faithful offerings to your ungrateful altars that any devoted person has ever offered." Orsino had not wanted to believe the rumors that circulate through his palace, even reaching his own ears—that Cesario, his faithful, capable and intelligent Cesario had wooed Olivia for his own sake instead of his master's—but here they seemed confirmed; he had not missed that secretive smile.
Rejection turned at once to rage, and the duke whirled quickly, grabbing a startled Cesario by the arm as he all but roared over his shoulder at the countess: "I'm going to take this boy from you. I'm doing this, even though he's dear to me, because I know you love him. Come with me, boy. I'm ready to do something extreme. I'll sacrifice this boy I care for, just to spite a beautiful woman with a heart of stone."
Was this the answer then? Did she have to die so that Olivia would stop loving an imaginary figment? Would that then incline her heart towards the duke once more, and bring peace and happiness to Illyria, instead of this rancor and confusion? Have I done anything but cause chaos and disarray since I intruded upon this fair land? "And I would die a thousand deaths cheerfully, if it made your life easier."
Olivia gaped in a very un-ladylike manner—this was taking loyalty and duty a bit far! "Where are you going Cesario?"
"Following the one I love more than my eyes or my life. More than I will ever love a wife," Viola said all in a rush. Perhaps If she showed both at once where her heart truly lay, this could all end without her beloved sullying his hands with anyone's blood.
"Ah, how awful, I feel so used! I've been tricked!"
Olivia's cry was sharper than one of a lady who realized she'd fallen for an unattainable man, Viola knew all too well. Some anger returned, as the girl knew she had not been at fault for Olivia's mistake, and the countess had no right to play the victim in a mess of her own making. "Who tricked you? Who treated you badly?" she demanded. As heaven and all its angels are witness, it was never me!
"Have you completely forgotten? Has it been so long?" the countess demanded. Cesario seemed to have changed yet again, and gone was the soft-spoken gentleman who'd promised to love her forever! Turning to one of her ladies-in-waiting, Olivia ordered, "Call the priest."
As the girl nodded and returned into the house, Orsino's patience (never a strong or certain thing in the best of times) snapped. Turning once more towards the gate and the street beyond, he again barked at Cesario: "Come on, let's go!" He no longer intended to kill the boy, he never had, really, but he would do everything he could to keep the would-be lovers a part.
Olivia didn't know this, and in desperate fear for her husband's safety, she broke the promise she made to him before they wed: "Go where, my lord? Cesario, my husband, stay here!"
For three heartbeats, silence lay over the courtyard as Orsino turned slowly to regard the stunned boy beside him.
"Husband?" the duke growled at last.
Olivia drew herself up, each word sharply and clearly so that there was no possibility she'd be misunderstood. "Yes, husband. Can he deny it?"
Could he? "Are you her husband, boy?"
"No, my lord, not me!" Viola insisted. Had the lady gone mad to make so bold a claim, or was she merely trying to spare a life that hadn't been in danger?
"You're afraid, so you hide your identity. But don't be afraid, Cesario. Accept the good luck that's come your way. Be the person you know you are, and you'll be as powerful as this person you fear." Olivia interrupted her own speech as she saw the priest who'd overseen the sacred and secret ceremony not long before emerge into the courtyard. "Oh, hello, father! Father, could I please ask you to tell these people what happened between me and this young man? I know we wanted to hide it, but now the situation demands that we reveal everything."
Oblivious to the dangerous mood, the holy man beamed as he remembered the beautiful moment it had been. "They were joined in an eternal bond of love and matrimony, and it was confirmed by a holy kiss and an exchange of rings. I witnessed it all as priest. It took place just two hours ago."
Orsino whirled on the boy beside him, grabbing the boy's jaw in a firm grip as he roared in the frightened face: "Oh, you little liar! How much worse will you be when you're older?" he stopped then, seeing genuine fear in those blue eyes, and found he could not bring himself to do any injury to the boy, though this treachery could never be undone. Dropping his hand, the duke turned stiffly away, not even looking at his one-time servant. "Goodbye, and take her. Just never set foot in any place where you and I might happen to meet."
"My lord, I swear to you—" Viola began, only to be interrupted by her 'wife'.
"Oh, don't swear! Keep a little bit of honesty, even if you're afraid!"
If honesty was what they wanted from her, perhaps the time had come to give it to them—
"For the love of God, call a doctor! Sir Toby needs help right away!"
All turned to see the lanky figure of Sir Andrew stumbling in through the gate, a blood-stained cloth tied hastily around his head. Olivia gaped yet again, but managed to splutter out: "What's the matter?"
"He cut my head and gave Sir Toby a bloody head, too. For the love of God, help us! I'd give forty pounds to be safe at home right now." He was done in this place—done with Sir Toby. There had to be easier ways to get a wife!
Olivia frowned in confusion—confusion shared by all present save the frantic knight. "Who did this, Sir Andrew?"
"The count's messenger, Cesario. We thought he was a coward, but he fights like the devil!"
Orsino frowned, wondering if he was the one meant, though the title was wrong. "My Cesario?" he therefore asked.
Andrew turned at the new voice, starting as his eyes fell on the figure in white beside the duke. "Oh no, there he is!" the gawky coward hid behind the priest and called over to the much-smaller boy: "You cut my head for no reason. Anything I did to you, I did it because Sir Toby made me."
This claim was almost as preposterous as the one Olivia had made! "Why are you talking like this? I never hurt you. You waved your sword at me for no reason, but I was nice to you. I didn't hurt you."
"If a bloody head counts as a hurt, then you hurt me," Sir Andrew insisted. Catching sight of his fellow knight, the pathetic fellow pointed him out: "Here comes Sir Toby, limping."
"Hello, sir! How are you?" Orsino asked the older knight, who seemed in slightly worse condition than his fellow—bleeding from a cut to his leg as well as one to his head.
Sir Toby was in a foul mood brought on by pain and inconvenience both. This was not how he'd intended to spend the afternoon—he had preparations to make for that night! "It doesn't matter how I am, he hurt me and that's that." Spotting Feste in the back of the crowd, he bellowed to the curly-haired young man, "Fool, have you seen Dick the surgeon?"
"Oh, he's drunk, Sir Toby, for a whole hour now. His eyes started glazing over around eight in the morning," the fool answered honestly.
Sir Toby growled, swaying a little. "Then he's no good. I hate a no-good drunk!"
"Take him away!" Olivia ordered, asking again, "Who did this to him?"
"I'll help you, Sir Toby," Sir Andrew offered, reaching out to the older man. "They'll treat our wounds together."
"Will you help me?" Sir Toby replied, shouting angrily at his one-time dupe. He was done with this fool—he'd brought nothing but trouble and ruined what should have been the best of days! His was not the company the bald man craved at the moment. "What an ass and a fool, a gullible no-good idiot!"
Olivia shook her head as her uncle shouted so loud his voice cracked and Sir Andrew stumbled back, stricken. Turning to Feste, she ordered again: "Get him to bed, and make sure his wounds are treated."
Sir Andrew had already fled inside, and Sir Toby allowed himself to be sullenly led away by the jester.
Before any present could comment on the confusion that had come in the wake of the two knights, another figure in white dashed in as he sheathed his sword. Seeming not to notice any others in the courtyard, the newcomer made straight for Olivia, calling an apology as he came. "I'm sorry madam, I wounded your relative."
Sebastian hesitated as he took in Olivia's strange, silent stare and he did his best to muster a smile as he took her hands in his own. "You're looking at me strangely, so I guess you're offended. But please forgive me, darling, for the sake of the vows we made to each other so recently."
"One face, one voice, one way of dressing, but two people! It's like an optical illusion. It is and isn't the same person!" Orsino looked between the two boys, who could be mirror images of the other, muttering to himself as he tried to process what this development could mean.
The newcomer now seemed to realize that he and the countess were not alone in the courtyard, and his gaze next fell on the man held between two officers. "Antonio, oh my dear Antonio!" he cried in delight at seeing his friend again. "I've been so tortured since I lost track of you!"
"Are you Sebastian?" Antonio asked in the voice of one addressing phantasm or ghost.
"Do you have any doubts, Antonio?" the other replied. He then noticed his friend's gaze flicker towards someone behind him, and turned to see another boy in a white suit identical to his own had taken a few paces away from another crowd of people and turned his back to all there.
Slowly, the other person turned, and Sebastian saw his own face and feature looking back at him, and could barely hear Antonio's rambling over the pounding of his own heart.
"How did you divide yourself in two? These two people are as identical as two halves of an apple. Which one is Sebastian?"
Olivia looked from one to the other, unable to force herself to even consider what this strange spectacle could mean for her. "How unbelievable!"
Sebastian took a step forward, the words drawn from him almost without his realizing it. "Is that me standing over there? I never had a brother." The ghostly figure took a step forward themselves, and Sebastian kept speaking."I had a sister who drowned. Are you from my country? What's your name? Who are your parents?"
"I'm from Messaline. Sebastian was my father's name, and my brother was named Sebastian too." Every fiber in her being wanted to believe this was no one but her brother, but in a land as mad and madcap as this, there were less pleasant possibilities... "If ghosts can take on someone's body and clothes, you must be a spirit who's come to frighten us."
The coincidences were too great to be mere chance... "If you were a woman , I'd hug you now and cry, and say 'Welcome back, drowned Viola!'"
"My father had a mole on his forehead," Viola offered, taking a step forward.
Sebastian mirrored the movement, affirming: "Mine did, too."
"He died on Viola's thirteenth birthday." Another step.
Another step—and now the two were less than an arm's reach form each other. "Oh, I remember that very clearly! It's true, he died on the day my sister turned thirteen."
"If the only thing keeping us from rejoicing is the fact that I'm wearing men's clothes, then don't hug me till I can prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that I'm Viola." Viola couldn't suppress a smile as she saw her brother—for now she had not doubt it was he—visibly rankle at the thought of such a delay in their reunion. "I'll take you to a sea captain here in town who's got my women's clothing in storage. He saved my life so I could serve this noble count. Everything that's happened to me since then has involved my relationship with this lady and this lord."
Suddenly, his encounters with Olivia made sense, and Sebastian turned back to his wife who stared at him in fear as the truth dawned upon her. Hoping to soften the blow, he offered, "So you got it wrong, my lady. You would've married a maiden. But that's not completely wrong. I'm still a virgin, so in a sense I'm a maiden too."
"If this is all as true as it seems to be, then I'm going to have a share in that lucky shipwreck," Orsino declared, regarding 'Cesario' in light of this revelation, and thinking over their many conversations about love in a completely new light. "Boy, you told me a thousand times you'd never love a woman as much as you love me."
Viola turned back to the duke, hiding her fear behind simple honesty. "Everything I said before I'll say again. I swear, I meant every word."
"Give me your hand," Orsino asked as he crossed to stand beside her, "and let me see you dressed in woman's clothing."
There was one obstacle to this happy ending, then: "The captain who brought me to shore has my women's clothes. For some reason he's in prison now on some legal technicality, on Malvolio's orders. Malvolio is a gentleman in my lady's entourage."
"He'll release him," Olivia promised as Feste, having delivered his charge into a surgeon's capable hands, returned to watch the show. Then, remembering events from earlier int hat day, her face fell. "But, oh no! Now I remember, they say the poor man is mentally ill." Spotting the jester, she called, " How is Malvolio doing, do you know?"
All eyes turned to the young man as he shrugged nonchalantly. "Well, he keeps the devil away as well as a man can in his situation. He's written you a letter."
"Open it and read it."
Feste couldn't resist a joke as his mistress's order. "There's a lot to learn when a fool recites the words of a madman." Then, mustering a warbling, wavering tone, he began: "'I swear to God, madam'—"
"Why are you talking like that?" Olivia demanded. "Are you insane?"
"No, madam, I'm just reading an insane letter."
Olivia rolled her eyes and snatched the letter from the fool's hands, thrusting into the hands of a startled Fabian. "Oh, you read it, sir."
Fabian glanced at the jester uncertainly, but his friend merely shrugged and gestured for him to read. Clearing his throat, the young servant did so: "'I swear to God, madam, you've wronged me, and I'll tell the whole world. You've shut me up in a dark room and given your drunken cousin authority over me, but I'm as sane as you are. I've got a letter from you encouraging me to act the way I did. If I didn't have it, I couldn't prove that I'm right and you're wrong. I don't care what you think of me. I'm going to forget my duties to you a little bit and complain about the injuries you've caused me. Signed: the poorly treated Malvolio.'"
All present exchanged confused glances—would this day ever consent to make sense for more than five minutes at a stretch?
"Did he write this?" Olivia demanded, to which Feste nodded solemnly, sensing the end of the jest drawing near.
It was Orsino who summed up the opinion of all present who had not encountered Malvolio in the midst of his 'madness': "it doesn't sound like an insane person's letter."
"Set him free," Olivia ordered, apparently agreeing with the duke. "Fabian, bring him here." The servant left to do his lady's bidding and the countess returned her mind to the happier of the two current matters. Taking Sebastian's hand, she led him over to where Orsino waited by Cesario—no, Viola. "My lord, I hope that after you think things over a bit you'll come to like the idea of having me as a sister-in-law instead of a wife. We can have the weddings tomorrow if you want, here at my own house. I'll pay for everything."
"I accept that offer happily, madam," Orsino replied, bowing, and finding that he truly meant it. He turned to the lady beside him, still smiling at the joke Fate had played on all present, that now all could laugh at. "So you're free now. I'm offering you my hand in marriage because of your loyal service to me, which was far from what any woman should be expected to do, especially a noble woman. You've called me "master" for so long. And now you'll be your master's mistress."
Olivia let go of Sebastian's hand and took his sister's, determined to be the one to move them past the confusion and awkwardness of the previous few months, and her mistake. "You'll be my sister-in-law!" Viola returned the other woman's smile, relieved to longer be her 'lover' or her rival, but before she could reply, Fabian returned, bringing in his wake the madman, Malvolio.
He was dressed in the same wild outfit as before, but now very much in disarray, with one leg free of laces one sleeve torn, the whole ensemble smudged with dirt and his ridiculous hat nowhere to be seen
Orsino raised an eyebrow at the sight, more willing to believe that this steward was, in fact, deprived of his good sensed. "Is this the madman?"
"Yes, my lord," Olivia replied, before turning back to her steward and asking quietly, "How are you, Malvolio?"
"Madam," he began, voice taught and quivering with rage and indignation that, in less extreme circumstances, he'd never have let himself express. "You have treated me badly, very badly."
Casting her mind back to his forward advances that very day, Olivia shook her head. "I did, Malvolio? No."
Malvolio stormed into the courtyard, staying well clear of all present but waving a sheet of paper in his hand as he continued to rail in his own defense. "You did. Please have a look at this letter. You can't deny that it's your handwriting. And tell me honestly, why did you show me such fondness and asked me to smile at you, wear yellow stockings and crisscrossed laces for you, and be rude to Sir Toby and the servants? And then tell me why you imprisoned me in a dark house, visited by the priest, after I followed your instructions perfectly. You made me look like the biggest fool that anybody ever tricked. Tell me why you did it."
A few present glanced at the priest, still present in the garden, but he only shook his head—he'd not yet had an opportunity to visit the poor man yet. For her part, Olivia took the letter and read it silently, ignoring those who watched her, silently. Finally she finished and turned sadly back to her poor, mistreated, servant.
"I'm sorry, Malvolio," she said at last, "but this isn't my writing, though I admit it looks like mine. It's definitely Maria's handwriting. Now that I think about it, Maria was the one who first told me you were insane. That's when you came in smiling at me, dressed up like the letter said, and acting just like it told you to act. Someone has played a very mean trick on you, but when we find out who's responsible, you won't just be the victim, but the judge who sentences the culprit. I promise."
When Fabian saw Malvolio's eyes light up at the thought of taking revenge on Maria, the servant found his tongue. His cousin had suffered enough at the hands of this man who had once claimed to love her, and on this day, he'd let nothing spoil her happiness or her triumph, even if that meant taking blame for something he didn't do. "Madam, let me say something. Please don't let squabbles ruin this beautiful and miraculous moment. I confess that Toby and I were the ones who tricked Malvolio because we hated his strict and heavy-handed ways. Sir Toby had Maria wrote that letter, and he married her as a reward." There was surprised gasp and muttering from the assembly, and Malvolio's face almost turned purple as the implications sunk in: the girl he'd refused to marry in hopes of later advancing up the social ladder, had become a lady, and thus a noble, by marring a knight! She'd become his better by the very method he'd hoped only a few hours before to use.
When he could be heard again, Fabia continued his plea: "We should just laugh about the whole thing rather than get upset about it, especially if we consider that each of the two parties offended the other equally."
Olivia looked between the two men for a moment before finally facing the steward with her judgement: "Oh, poor fool, they've really humiliated you!"
"I was part of the trick, sir," Feste admitted, strolling up to Malvolio and throwing a hand over his shoulder. "I pretended to be a priest named Sir Topas." He smirked at Malvolio, then imitated him to his face: "'I swear, fool, I'm not crazy'. But do you remember what he said about me before?" he asked the group in general before locking eyes with Olivia and again imitating Malvolio's voice and manner: " 'I'm surprised you enjoy the company of this stupid troublemaker—unless he's got somebody laughing at him, he can't think of anything to say'." He released Malvolio, took two steps back, and gave a mock-bow, proclaiming his last word with the ring of a truism: "What goes around comes around."
Malvolio glared at the whole assembly, realizing he had no sympathy from a single one of them—many of whom he had personally alienated. "I'll get my revenge on every last one of you!" He then turned on his heel and stormed back into the house.
Olivia watched him go, frowning in concern. "He really was tricked horribly."
"Go after him and try to calm him down" Orsino ordered his entourage, who hurried to obey. Olivia nodded for her servants to do so as well, and all but Feste returned the nod and left the garden to the four lovers. Even the officers led Antonio into the house, certain now he was going to be released.
All this went almost unnoticed as Orsino gave the reason for his order: "He still hasn't told us about the captain. When that's been taken care of and the time is right, we'll all get married. Until then, we'll stay here, my dear sister-in-law." Olivia nodded graciously, and the duke turned to the girl beside him, holding out his hand, which she took. "Cesario, come here. I'll keep calling you Cesario while you're still a man, but when we see you in women's clothes you'll be the queen of my dreams, Orsino's true love."
They paused there a moment, siblings and spouses, twins and true loves, before they, too, entered Olivia's house together, leaving Feste alone in the courtyard. The jester turned once more to his imaginary audience, gave a small bow, then began to sing softly at first, then growing in volume:
"When that I was and a little tiny boy:
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain!
A foolish thing was but a toy.
For the rain it raineth every day—
It raineth every day!
"But when I came to man's estate:
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain—"
As the fool sang those lines, a lone figure emerged from the house. It was Antonio, bound once more for his home after politely declining an invitation to stay longer. For friendship's sake, he would come and visit Sebastian later, but what he felt now was a longing for his own country, and a kind of release—he felt at peace, as if he no longer owed his brother or his friend a kind of debt; he'd felt forgiveness and forgiven himself. He nodded to Feste as he crossed paths with the jester, but his gait never faltered as he turned his back on Illyria.
"'Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate.
For the rain it raineth every day—
It raineth every day!"
The 'knave and fool' of the past few months—Sir Andrew—came out of the house then, as if summoned by Feste's words. There was a bandage beneath his top hat and a suitcase in his gloved hands; he was making good on all his promises to leave that house at last, his final few ounces of spirit broken by Toby's earlier tirade. Only time would tell if his experiences had taught him to tell false friends from true ones, or given him a clearer view of himself, but it would be other people and places that would witness if such a change had been enacted, or wasted on an empty-headed knight. Without any sort of acknowledgement at all, Sir Andrew brushed by the fool who'd made a fool of him, and stumbled down the path to parts unknown.
"But when I came—alas!—to wive,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain—"
As the next stanza began, the newlyweds, Sir Toby and Lady Maria, also crossed from house to gate, suitcase in hand. After Toby had proposed, the two had made plans to return to his long-abandoned homestead and try no longer the patience and hospitality of Olivia's house. Whether Toby could make an honest woman of the little prankster, or whether Maria could help with his new resolve towards sobriety remained to be seen, but it was certain their new life together would be anything but dull. Nodding to Feste in passing, they boldly faced their future, hand-in-hand.
"By swaggering could I never thrive.
For the rain it raineth every day—
It raineth every day!"
Fabian was not far behind his cousin and her new husband, being one of the servants who'd taken the offer the two had extended to their friend's in Olivia's house: any who wished to escape Malvolio's tyranny and almost-certain retribution were welcome to come with them and start a new life along with the couple. The brown-haired servant was the first to stop by the jester, and laid a hand on his friend's shoulder, silently asking yet again if Feste would join in with the exodus. The fool merely smiled and shook his head—he'd try his luck and continue to ply his trade in the houses of countess and duke alike.
Fabian at last had to leave his friend there, and in the solitude of the garden, Feste sang his final stanza, his final words:
"A great while ago the world begun,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
But that's all one, our play is done,
And we'll strive to please you every day—
Strive to please you every day!"
This is the picture after the pictures: as the final words of Feste's song fade into mere memory, the shadows in the garden lengthen and condense until only the fool is left standing in a pool of light, facing his imaginary audience with a small, knowing smile.
There is only a little light left on the door to Olivia's house, where an austere figure, once more in neat, severe black suit stands, pasty face pale in rage as Malvolio glares coldly at his rival, the still-smiling fool. With his black suit blending into the encroaching shadows, he appears to be a monstrous, half-human figure spun from darkness itself.
The rest of the light seeps away, and we can no longer see the two, but we ae left as unsettled as were at the beginning of the comedy, for all the joy and light that we have seen unfold before us. We are unable to shake the impression that Malvolio's promised revenge is coming, and will break with most of its force upon the fool, perhaps erasing that smile forever.
So, yeah. A bit of an odd ending, I know, but because Malvolio is described as a puritan a few times in the script, my director created that moment as a foreshadowing of the time when the puritans closed all the theaters following Cromwell's revolution. Unfortunately, most of our audience didn't get that—and I can't blame them—but knowing what it represented, I had to keep it in. Plus, I love the feel of that moment; it was so cool
Anyway, thank you guys so much for indulging this little journey down memory lane, and again, please let me know if you'd like to see me take on more plays in this manner!
As always, if you saw something you liked, or something you think I can fix/improve on for next time, don't hesitate to leave a review and let me know!