Twelfth Night minimized

The play opens in Dubrovnik, in a country then known as Illyria, now known as Croatia. Viola, the play’s heroine, finds herself in Dubrovnik, having survived a shipwreck. Her twin brother, Sebastian, also on the ship, may not have survived the wreck.  The play was first performed on a January sixth, the last night of the Christmas season.

1. Orsino is the duke of Illyria and is in love. He has fallen for Olivia, a beautiful and wealthy young countess of Illyria, who has just lost her brother; she deciding to shun the company of men for seven years as a tribute to him. Viola becomes employed by Orsino, disguised as a eunuch, taking the name Cesario. Orsino puts her to work.  Her assignment: woo the beautiful Lady Olivia on his behalf.  She does, but she does her job so well that Olivia falls for her, thinking she is a he, disguised as she is as Cesario. 

2. Sebastian arrives in Dubrovnik with Antonio, his friend who saved him in the shipwreck. Antonio gives Sebastian his wallet and quietly slips off to the hotel, having a checkered history in the city. Viola as Cesario has by now left Olivia’s home, aware that Olivia has fallen for her, disguised as she is.  Viola lets us know she has fallen for Orsino, her boss.  But Orsino is oblivious to Viola’s interest in him, sending her back to Olivia to try harder.

3. An aide to Olivia threatens the disguised Viola.  Antonio, out for a stroll, thinking Cesario is Sebastian, comes to her defense. The police arrest Antonio. Antonio, looking for bail funds, thinking of course that Cesario is Sebastian, asks Cesario to return his wallet. Cesario says she doesn’t know who he is. The aide, who had slipped away, sees Sebastian, thinking he is Cesario, and starts a fight with him.

4. Olivia happens by and sees her aide in a fight with Sebastian.  She cries out to her aide to “Hold!” She calms things. The aide slips away. Olivia lets Sebastian know how much she loves him, thinking of course that he is Cesario. Sebastian falls for her. They make plans to marry.

5. Orsino and Viola as Cesario are on stage. Antonio is led in by officers. Orsino recognizes him as the one who crippled his nephew. Olivia enters. Orsino lets her have it, upset as he is that she has fallen for Cesario. Viola lets all know that she is really a she and that she loves the duke. Olivia is bewildered. Sebastian enters. Viola and Sebastian enthusiastically embrace. Sebastian lets Olivia know how much he loves her.  Olivia recovers. Orsino announces that he and Viola will marry the same day Olivia and Sebastian marry; she to be the queen of Illyria.