William Shakespeare is by and far one of the greatest playwrights of all time, and Twelfth Night is one of his most commonly known and parodied plays. Countless plays, films, and novels have been based off of the premise of this play, which revolves around the idea of true love and identity, and how misleading either of the two can lead to mass confusion. Viola has been separated from her twin brother, Sebastian, and both think the other dead, while the Duke of Orsino is in love with the only other royal in town, Olivia. Viola meets the Duke of Orsino and falls in love with him, though he is not aware of this as she is dressed as a male page and assumes her brother’s identity in order to get closer to him. He sends her to woo Olivia, who had been previously undeterred from her mourning period (she vowed to isolate herself for seven years after her brother’s death), yet Olivia’s poetic way of phrasing the Duke’s love causes Olivia to fall in love with the disguised Viola. Sebastian then happens to come into the equation, and everyone eventually comes clean about their true identities, and Olivia and Sebastian wed as well as the Duke and Viola. Despite the happy ending, the validity of Sebastian and Olivia’s love is still in air; their relationship seems shallow, based solely on appearances and Viola’s words. The Duke and Viola enjoy a slightly more stable relationship, as they got to know each other as friends first before beginning anything romantic (mainly because Viola was in drag for the majority of their relationship).
As an event, I chose to attend the student-written-and-directed musical Now! That’s What I Call a Musical by Brett Messiora. It parodied the high school of 90’s yore, where everyone was a stereotype that you could pick out on a sitcom. It was based on the premise that a new girl arrived to school, only to fall in love with the most popular boy in school, though the nerdy boy was in love with her. As the most popular boy in school had an argument with his girlfriend (predictably, the most popular and snotty girl), he ended it and asked out the new girl to spite his now-ex. The popular girl, realizing that the nerdy guy was in love with the new girl, forcefully adopted him as her new boyfriend. After a series of hilarious miscommunications, the new girl and the nerdy guy end up together, and there’s a lovely musical number to tie it all together.
Both of these pieces involved complications in love as a direct result of dishonesty; yet, in either work, the objects of affection may have been intimidated by an immediate declaration of love (except perhaps in Twelfth Night, where that sort of thing is grounds for a marriage) and things may not have worked out. The general message of these pieces seems to be that eventually, regardless of whatever complications that may arise while you pretend to be someone else in order to woo the love of your life, everything will work out perfectly in the end.