Shakespeare Plays Available in Video Format
Scholars Online Educational Resources


All’s Well That Ends Well
Antony and Cleopatra
As You Like It
The Comedy of Errors
Henry IV, part 1
Henry IV, part 2
Henry V
Henry VI, part 1
Henry VI, part 2
Henry VI, part 3
Henry VIII
Julius Caesar
King John
King Lear
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Measure for Measure
The Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
Richard II
Richard III
Romeo and Juliet
The Taming of the Shrew
The Tempest
Timon of Athens
Titus Andronicus
Troilus and Cressida
Twelfth Night
Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Winter’s Tale

Available versions

1910: Eugene Mullin, Charles Kent

1968: John Sichel

1980: John Gorrie

1986: Alan Erlich

1988: Paul Kafno, Kenneth Branagh

1996: Trevor Nunn

2003: Tim Supple

2012: Barry Avrich

2014: Tim Carroll


1992: Mariya Muat, Dave Edwards (animated)

2006: She’s The Man


2006: Shakespeare in Love

Twelfth Night
2012: Barry Avrich

This is a stage production from the Canadian Stratford festival, filmed before a live audience. It is also certainly the most peculiar production of Twelfth Night I have seen or am likely to see.

First of all, it sits athwart the dividing line between regular legitimate theater and musical comedy. Many pieces are sung — more than are designated as songs in the play — and there’s background music behind many of the other exchanges, as might occur in a movie. A pop/jazz combo comes onstage at various times throughout, with electric guitars, drums, saxophones, and the like. Feste himself is playing the electric guitar (and in fact at one point in the script, the word “tambor” [a drum] is replaced by “Fender”); many of the songs normally presented by Feste along are done chorally with multiple singers (including the final melancholic “When that I was and a little tiny boy”). At the midpoint of the play (after the intermission, at the beginning of Act III), a musical setting of Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to his Love” is also inserted. Otherwise, however, the text is Shakespeare’s, and it’s relatively complete.

The setting seems to have been deliberately scrambled, as well. The costumes are a cross between seventeenth-century aristocratic wear and something one might expect of Liberace. The play is garnished with various anachronistic pastimes: at the beginning, Sir Andrew and Sir Toby are playing a game of golf, complete with cart; later, they are found in a steam-bath. Malvolio makes his cross-gartered and smiling entrance while Olivia is playing (or trying to play) a game of tennis, while wearing a hat that would look correct for the 1920s. Since this is played on the thrust stage in Stratford, there are few if any sets to speak of, other than the mechanics required to pull off the narrative. Between the lighting and the cinematography, though, this is a remarkably beautiful visual extravaganza.

While I could not say that the acting was the best I've ever seen in a production of this play — and, in fact, comparison is difficult just because of the change of tonality and idiom — the parts are played more than competently throughout. Given the amount of singing involved in the play, it's worth noting that the vocal forces here are all more than equal to the task. Though I don’t personally care much for the music, they sing it very well. Among the leads, moreover, Olivia, Viola, and Malvolio were all very impressive; Brian Dennehy and Stephen Ouimette as the two wayward knights are suitably silly. The absolute standout, however, is Ben Carlson as Feste. His playing and singing lead the musical drive of the play; his sardonic and perfectly-tuned delivery in the lines guide us into this chaotic narrative: his voice — not a kind one, but one free of illusion — is a kind of Greek chorus to the whole proceeding.

The inclusion of “The Passionate Shepherd to his Love” is a curious ploy. It’s not part of Shakespeare’s script, but it was a popular song, apparently, in the 1590s. It was included as well in Ian McKellen’s version of Richard III (1995: Richard Longcraine) in a swing setting at a celebratory ball. It’s interesting for its own sake, but also because it was in some ways the starting point of modern pastoral; it also is the beginning of an elaborate poetical conversation that took in Sir Walter Raleigh, John Donne, and many another down to Ogden Nash. Dramatically, though, it’s somewhat peculiar to have Olivia (still nominally in mourning, and having until very recently kept herself sequestered from all suitors) singing, “Come live with me and be my love.”

I couldn’t recommend this version to anyone looking for a canonical presentation of the play; it’s too eccentric. Those who would find it offensive should also be advised that there’s a brief scene in which Sir Andrew bares his behind. But I would also say that overall it’s remarkably engaging and effective. It preserves the text in the main, and manages to capture the spirit of the original play with remarkable fidelity. It is a celebration of whimsy and misrule, undercut (or undergirded) with an insistent note of melancholy. The final untying of knots, and the mutual recognition of Viola and Sebastian, is as moving as in any other version I have seen, and there is a clear sense of joyful release. And yet the last image in the light is the unsmiling face of Malvolio, echoing the words of the final song: “for the rain it raineth every day.”

Antonio: Michael Blake

Curio: Jaz Sealey

Fabian: Juan Chioran

Feste: Ben Carlson

First Officer: Stephen Russell

Malvolio: Tom Rooney

Maria: Cara Ricketts

Olivia: Sara Topham

Orsino: Mike Shara

Priest: Roy Lewis

Sea-Captain: Timothy D. Stickney

Sebastian: Trent Pardy

Second Officer: Ian Lake

Sir Andrew Aguecheek: Stephen Ouimette

Sir Toby Belch standby: Robert Persichini

Sir Toby Belch: Brian Dennehy

Valentine: Ryan Field

Viola standby: Suzy Jane Hunt

Viola: Andrea Runge

Ensemble: Aaron Krohn

Ensemble: Barbara Fulton

Ensemble: Sarah Kitz

Ensemble: Victor Dolhai

Musician: Brad Canning

Musician: Holly Shephard

Musician: Merlin William