Thirteenth Night, or an Epilogue for Twelfth Night

Par Jennifer Johnson
Publication en ligne le 15 juillet 2016

Texte intégral

1After the Thisbé Association (of which I am a member) performed a twenties rendition of Shakespeare’s Comedy Twelfth Night in March, we were asked to perform at the gala dinner for the Coimbra Group in Poitiers. We were asked to play a twenty-minute scene. Given the difficulty of extracting a scene from the play and having it make sense out of context, I offered to write an epilogue of the play. After all, Shakespeare did leave the door wide open with Malvolio’s promise to have ‘revenge on the whole pack’ of Olivia’s household. So I settled on the idea that the epilogue would be Malvolio’s revenge. It presented the appropriate elements for dramatic conflict. The process of inventing the story was simply imagining what Malvolio’s objective would be. I decided that he would want Olivia to consider his suit and to create mayhem among those who had played the trick on him by giving them a taste of their own medicine. And thus the writing began. It was while I was writing it that I realized that some of the ideas expressed were present in many different Shakespearean plays. Therefore, I made the choice to include lines from those plays into the dialogue. This scene is my small tribute to Shakespeare 400 years after his death.


Maria (Peggy Canon), Olivia (Jennifer Johnson) and Malvolio (Graeme Watson).
Salle des pas perdus, Palais de Justice de Poitiers – 9 juin 2016

@ Jennifer Johnson

The Thisbé Association had the pleasure of performing the Shakespearean comedy, Twelfth Night, during this year’s Campus festival. In Twelfth Night many find love and happiness. All save the stuffy butler Malvolio who is in love with Olivia but who is the victim of a cruel (yet very funny) prank by the other members of Olivia’s household. He vows to take revenge. The opportunity comes quickly as a great feast has been arranged to celebrate the weddings of Olivia and Sebastian and of Toby and Maria. Malvolio seizes the occasion to mete out retribution on all those who have caused his humiliation. The first part of his scheme has already been set in motion as hosts and guests converge in the great dining hall of Olivia’s palace.  And so now Thisbé is proud to have the honor and privilege of performing for you Thirteenth Night, an almost-original epilogue of Twelfth Night written by Jennifer Johnson. I say ‘almost-original’ because, after all, Shakespeare did help to write it. And in this game of revenge is it not ironic that it all starts with a letter…

Out damn spot, out I say. One, two, why then ’tis time to do it.

How now, Malvolio ? Why dost thou not smile ? ’Tis a happy occasion. We shall feast this eve.

A messenger left this for you, my lady.

6Gives a letter to Olivia.

’Tis a letter from my beloved Sebastian. ‘My dearest Olivia, ’tis with a heavy heart that I write this letter. I have boarded a ship back to my beloved country. I had thought that your love could substitute that of my country, but it cannot. If you ever loved me, I beseech you, find a good, honest, loyal man to love you in my stead. I am sorry, my lady, but I shall never return. Formerly yours, Sebastian’ Oh how am I beguiled !

8Falls into Malvolio’s arms.

The scoundrel !

Whatever shall become of me !

11Enter Feste.

Can aught be amiss ? For I miss very little.

Sebastian has left me, Fool ! No, I am the fool for I believed in his love and, now, I am alone. Utterly, absolutely and irrefutably alone.

Nay ! I am here for you, my lady. Lean on me, I shall share your burden and pain.

The feast ! My cousin Bernadette shall arrive within the hour with her nurse. What shall I do ?

Madam, the wedding feast has been transformed into a bon voyage feast. We shall toast the scoundrel’s departure.

Heartless, Malvolio, ’tis what you are !

An empty heart but I full head, I’d wager my entire purse on it !

19Goes to pull out purse and finds it missing.

20Enter Toby.

Cousin, what goes here ?

Husband, Sebastian has left her to go back to his country.

The cad ! Any man who cannot take a proper beating doesn’t deserve you anyway, Cousin.

If my memory does not fault, he beat you, husband.

And took it like a man, I did ! You deserve no less. Come cousin, sit and drown your woes in some liquid paradise.

26Enter Fabiana with a letter.

27Fabiana (to Toby) My lord, a messenger just delivered this letter. I know not if it is meant for you or your wife.

28Toby (taking the letter)
I shall take the letter, fair Fabiana.

29 Opens letter, attempts to read but then hands the letter over to Fabiana.

30Would you be so kind as to read me the missive, Fabiana. I seem to be seeing double.

Aye, the eyeballs start to float around in the alcohol ’ere you know it. (Reading) ‘My dearest Maria,’ Oh, this was meant for your wife.

Stay ! Who addresses my wife with familiarity of the like ? Read on !

‘My dearest Maria, I cannot contain my arduous passion a moment longer. I love thee and I believe that thou dost return my love after the nights we have spent together. Deny us no longer. Yours passionately. A.A.’

Maria ? My Maria ? Oh hell has swallowed me whole. Too hot ! Too hot ! I feel my hopes and dreams dashed to ashes. My wife is a hobbyhorse !

My lord, I know not what to say. There must be some mistake.

No mistake. The letter says it all. Who is her lover ? I shall find him and I shall…send one of my cousin’s men to flounce him within an inch of his life. Who could A.A. be ?

37Enter Sir Andrew.

38Sir Andrew
Bonsoir ! The feast can now begin for I come to make merry, and to tarry until the lark’s call.

Andrew Aguecheek, You starvelling, you eel-skin, you dried neat’s-tongue, you bull’s-pizzle, you stock-fish, you tailor’s-yard, you sheath, you bow-case, you vile standing tuck !

40Sir Andrew
Cheers to you too, Sir Toby I see your feast has begun and I dare say is already half gone. Here good fellow, I see your cup runneth over. Share in the bounty.

Not on your life.

42Sir Andrew
But we share everything.

Are you mad, man ? You don’t just share everything. There are certain ‘bounties’ that should never be shared !

44Sir Andrew
’Tis far too much for him. I am merely thinking of Maria. I am but keeping her happy.

Knave ! Thou subtle, perjur’d, false, disloyal man !

46Sir Andrew What anger is this, Fabiana ? By my life ! You are jealous ! Be not so. There is enough to go around ! Now, let us use this occasion and place to not hate but celebrate new love !

Thou art unfit for any place but hell. Secrets and rutting do not love make.

The road to heaven is paved with love, secrets, rutting and let us not forget the most important : gold. For when one cannot find love, one can always secretly buy rutting.

There is no love to celebrate, Sir Andrew.

And rutting ?

51Malvolio (looking at Olivia) There could be both if one would just give it a chance !

I would we were to speak of aught but rutting and love. By Jove not the love !

I am one who loved not wisely but too well.

What say you, Toby ?

I am burned from the inside out with the acid of betrayal.

Sir Toby, the taste of betrayal is that of the bitterest of coffees, the sour of lemons is for realizing one’s own mistakes, which is why I never indulge in such foolery, sugar is from tasting the delights in life. Salty tastes are signs of inspiration be it good or bad. Malvolio, has gorged on peanuts of late.

I fail to see why my lady keeps you in her company, Fool. You talk much and listen not at all.

I listen to most, good sir, but for you I have no ear.

I would you lend me your ear.

I am sorry, sir, but I live by a motto : neither a borrower nor a lender be ; for loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of foolery. I have an honest trade.

61Sir Andrew
Extortion is your trade. ’Tis as honest as Sir Toby is sober.

Of what betrayal speak you, husband ? Who has been disloyal ?

Thou dissembler, thou ! Disloyal ? The word is too good to paint out your wickedness !

Sir Toby, peace ! Come ! You must calm yourself. I shall tend to you.

65Sir Andrew Why, Mistress Accost, ’twould appear that you are not in your husband’s favor.

I have done nothing to displease him. But…O me, the gods ! ’Tis not me who displeases him. ’Tis another who pleases him.

67Sir Andrew What is this ?

Is it not obvious ? Look you ! See how she touches him. See how she looks upon him. ’Tis carnal in its depths. How could she ever want him ?

69Sir Andrew
Uh…my lady, you did marry him.

I lacked for suitors with a fortunes such as his. But he is a spineless drunk. To marry him is hopeless to be his whore is witless.

71Sir Andrew
Are you sure Fabiana is his who…uh…mistress ?

You are blind or you are too much of friend to him, if you do not see what is right before your person. My husband is a hot-blooded philanderer.

Fabiana, my wife is a cold-blooded adulteress.

74Toby and Maria
Have I done aught to deserve such a spouse ?

75Fabiana and Sir Andrew
Yes !

76Malvolio (aside)
How now, has my machination exceeded even my imaginings ? My Olivia, sits here, her beloved Sebastian all but forgotten, my suit a seed that shall grow to fruition in her heart. Some cupid kills with arrows, some with traps. Sir Toby and Maria are snared in mutual distrust. Fabiana and Sir Andrew, painted the culprits of their evil deeds. These are my workings and yet I cannot feel remorse. I am a man more sinned against than sinning.

77Enter Holy Father.

O, good father, welcome !

79Holy Father
Thank you, child. I come to partake in the revelry, the feasting and most importantly the fine ale ! To the happiest of marriages !

Father, I am most relieved by your presence. I wish to have my marriage annulled !

81Holy Father
What’s this ?

As do I !

83Sir Toby
You wish to annul ? Treacherous, wench !

Nay, husband, angry, so very angry I could thrash you ! And you’d take it !

85Sir Toby
You wasp ! I’ faith you are too angry.

If I be waspish, best beware my sting.

87Holy Father
Peace, peace ! Fear not, ’tis a normal occurrence. The course of true love never did run smooth.

Father I wish to annul the farce I call a marriage. I have other suitors.

89Holy Father
Was this marriage consummated ?

By mine honour it was but ’twas the night before the vows. That cannot possibly count.

If that does not count then surely six months exempts us from consummation.

Maria !

93Holy Father
One day or six months changes naught. The melding of oneself to another constitutes marriage.

94Sir Andrew
Mean you, whenever we… meld… we marry ?

Aye, and bigamy is a sin.

96Sir Andrew
That means…

You are going straight to hell.

98Holy Father
Enough talk of unpleasantness. I came to bless two marriages. So unto you both shall receive the blessing of a happy, fruitful marriage.

99Sir Andrew
Cheers !

Fool, what are you about ?

A purse, a purse. My kingdom for a purse !

You have no kingdom, fool. What are you rambling about ?

As you have lost a husband so I have lost that which I prize the most in this world.

Your wit ?

One cannot lose that which one never possessed.

My wit is my spirit. Even when I pass I shall bring it with me to the hereafter to enthrall the angels. Nay, ’tis my coin. ’Tis gone, purloined from beneath my ever watchful eye. Alas the day ! Someone has taken it all !

Who would be so cruel ?

108Everyone looks at Malvolio.

My beautiful Olivia, you may have a happy union. With me.

Malvolio, I bear Sebastian’s name.

What’s in a name, Olivia ? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Such poetry, Malvolio. And what pray tell is your family name ?

113Malvolio whispers in her ear.

Malvolio…Doofenschmirtz ?

The third. ’Tis a good, strong name.

116Holy Father
Methinks there is too much talking and not enough dancing… and drinking.

117Enter Sebastian and Officer.

Sebastian ?

119Runs to him.

My lady, my watch found this man on the beach lying with the remains of a ship.

Olivia ! My dear wife, Olivia !

What happened to thee ?

I was hit over the head and dragged to the docks. I briefly awoke as the captain was taking coin for my abduction. ’Twas not long before I found myself a prisoner in the dark on a ship sailing out to sea.

124Sir Toby
How did you come back ?

The ship hit something not long after leaving port. It wrecked in the bay and I was washed up on the shores of Illyria… again.

And the other men on the ship ?

Most drowned. Those who made it to the shore were eaten by a bear.

May the lord have mercy on their souls !

O get thee to a nunnery !

O summer’s day, you are here and alive ! But who could be the author of such a deed ?

That, I know not. I saw nothing and heard but the voice of the captain when he received payment. I heard a name. But one unfamiliar to mine ear but not easily forgotten. The captain called the man Sir Doofenshirtz.

132Everyone looks at Malvolio.

Yes, ’tis I. I who was most notoriously abused by all of you ! You wrote it : ‘Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.’ And I, I have decided that my greatness would be of my own doing. I would have retribution for the wrong you did me. The humiliation you caused me. I am but a man ! And all men are alike. If you prick us do we not bleed ? If you tickle us do we not laugh ? If you poison us do we not die ? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge ? My reaction is the sum of your actions. The fault lies not within the stars but in yourselves ! There was no move to punish the authors of my shame. I know that nothing will come of nothing. My pursuit was not in anyone’s loss but in winning the fair Olivia and letting the rest of you feel misery for misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows. Or so it would seem.

The letter ! ’Twas byyour hand ?

Aye. I had not thought that Maria would suspect her husband so readily.

136Sir Toby
My fair, Maria ! How I have abused thee !

And I thee !

My purse ! I’ll have my coins restored !

139Malvolio gives back a purse. Feste waits and Malvolio gives back another.

Come sir, away to prison.

Hold !

142Goes to Malvolio and holds out hand. Malvolio gives another purse.
They begin to leave.
Enter Bernadette and Nurse.

O, Cuz ! Do tell me the feast has not already ended in a brawl and I missed it.

Soft, what light ! It is the east and Bernadette is the sun ! I did not know love ere this moment.

Malvolio ? (To Officer) I thank you for you pains. (Gives coins) You may leave this fellow in my keeping.

146Exit Officer.

I would atone for my wrongs and live out a thousand deaths to meet this one fair lady.

A man can die but once. ’Tis distasteful, flowery talk, sir.

Good nurse, the fellow uses wooing words. What is your name, gentleman ?

Slave, my lady ! For I am such a moth, a slave to your light.

Good sir, my young lady Bernadette is road weary. She shall not fall the prey to the likes of you. I know your kind : a forked tongue, teeth that scrape the tiles, and a mind fit for a brothel ! I’ll none of it ! Come, my lady, let us retire.

Nurse, I have travelled far to be with my cousins. Let us have joy in their unions and should Lachesis wish to grace me with one of my own… Who am I to question her ? So cousin, can we not dance ?

Methinks thou speaks the right. If music be the food of love, play on !



Pour citer ce document

Par Jennifer Johnson, «Thirteenth Night, or an Epilogue for Twelfth Night», Shakespeare en devenir [En ligne], N°8 - Saison 2015-2016, L'Oeil du Spectateur, Autour de Shakespeare - Espace libre, mis à jour le : 15/07/2016, URL :