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Twelfth night - Act 3, Scene 4 - How would I play Malvolio?

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Introduction

Act 3, Scene 4 - How would I play Malvolio? First impressions are always very important and Malvolio's must set his character for the whole scene. Socially during Twelfth Night's era the maid would enter a room before the guest that showed them where the room was and they often renounced the visitor the master/mistress. But given Malvolio's current mood he would be so eager to speak to Olivia he may want to enter the room first. Upon my entrance I will have a sort of "pushing contest" with Maria in the doorframe so that I could get through first. When I actually manage to get in front of Maria I will brush my clothes haughtily with quick movements to show that Maria is below me. I will then raise my head up high to make sure that Maria understands her place. On Malvolio's first line I will bend down on one knee in front of Olivia and kiss her hand twice to exaggerate my inappropriate behaviour; Malvolio is Olivia's butler and does not carry the status to kiss her hand. ...read more.

Middle

I will wrap my arms around her and speak. When I talk about "the sweet Roman hand" I will take hold of one of her hands gently and attempt to kiss it. This action will allow Olivia to get free of the irrepressible Malvolio's arms and walk away. Malvolio will follow and stand near to her. Line 27 Olivia asks Malvolio if he will go to bed. This surprises Malvolio so I will react immediately and energetically with a lot of power and volume in my voice. I will also open my eyes and raise my eyebrows. When I tell her "I will come to [her]" I should stroke her head down wards fairly quickly until I get to her bottom and I will slap it. Malvolio might do this because slapping someone's bottom can often be used cheekily and Malvolio thinks she has just been cheeky enough to ask him to sleep with her. At line 33 I will stroll towards centre stage and fling my arms into the air bellowing, " Yes, nightingales answer daws!" ...read more.

Conclusion

I will also prolong the word "so" at the end of the sentence so Olivia can easily interrupt and also so he looks more pompously ridiculous. If I drew a spiral in the air on this word it would also help emphasise the above. Immediately before Malvolio says his final line before Maria and Olivia exit I will make three clicks of my tongue as if he feels that Olivia is sillier than he realised to forget her letter. I will say the final line as if I am completely bored out of my mind. As soon as the servant enters I will walk into centre stage and slump down while standing my face should face the audience as if I am much too bored to listen to the servant. My face should gradually come into shock as I realise what has happened but I will not be in my final facial expression till they have actually exited the room and I could gesture and mouth a final "WAIT!" but they would have already gone. There will be a blackout as soon as I have refaced the audience. Beth Ridley U5R Drama ...read more.

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