A shipwrecked young woman (Imogen Stubbs) takes the identity a man, giving her the appearance of her drowned brother (Steven Mackintosh), and becomes the confidant to the local duke (Toby Stephens). This leads to romantic confusion as she loves the duke, the duke loves Lady Olivia (Helena Bonham Carter), Olivia loves the cross-dressing girl, and the brother isn’t really dead.
Quick Review: My favorite Shakespearian comedy, Twelfth Night, is a hilarious farce, filled with pratfalls, sexual innuendo, sight-gags, over-the-top characters, and general silliness.
But not in this production. Director Trevor Nunn has made a skillfully shot, adeptly acted drama, which is unfortunate when filming a comedy. Ben Kingsley’s Feste is a good example of where this production fails. No one can fault his performance; it is first rate, but it is of the wrong character. Feste is a wacky fool, but Kingsley plays him as a melancholy philosopher. Nunn has a great deal of respect for Shakespeare, but Twelfth Night doesn’t need respect. It needs to be funny, and here, it isn’t.