"If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken and so die.
That strain again! it had a dying fall:
O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour!"
Shipwrecked and alone in a foreign land, Viola makes the best of the situation the only way she can — by disguising herself as a man named Cesario and landing a job as a page for the local Duke. Duke Orsino warms to Viola quickly, and entrusts her with a job, to woo the Countess Olivia, whom he's been pining for. But Viola does too good of a job, and soon Olivia has fallen head-over-heels for "Cesario."
All of that is before the members of Olivia's house convince her snobby right-hand man Malvolio that she secretly in love with him, and before Viola's twin brother shows up, bearing a striking resemblance to his sister when she's in drag...
Bruce Coville's latest adaptation of one of the Bard's masterpieces, William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, illus. by Tim Raglin, will forsooth elicit applause-and laughter-from youngsters as it transports them to ancient Illyria where not all is as it appears. With an abundance of quotations from the original play plus smooth scene transitions, the accessible narrative reveals the plot's ample comical convolutions, put into merry motion with the shipwrecked Viola's decision to disguise herself as a young man to gain entry into the court of Duke Orsino. Raglin's earth-toned, etching-like art enhances the robust humor with its caricature portraits of the players.