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National Theatre Blog

Twelfth Night: Valentine’s Day Dos and Don’ts

Twelfth Night rehearsal 12
It’s the most romantic day of the year! Not today: tomorrow, when Twelfth Night has its first preview in the Olivier Theatre.

First, though, we’ve got to get through Valentine’s Day, which can be a thorny one whether you’re single, in a relationship, happily married or a fictional character in a Shakespearean comedy.

Given the many hurdles to a successful Valentine’s Day, it seems the perfect opportunity to take some pointers from a play which ends with (SPOILER ALERT) three weddings. So, without much ado, here are some dos and don’ts of romance, learned the hard way by the characters in Twelfth Night.




DO try to meet people in new locations.
A new pub, a dance class, a shipwreck on a remote and mystical island, whatever floats your boat (or, in Viola’s case, doesn’t).

DO keep your family close.
Having an identical twin of the opposite gender can really help you out of sticky love situations, especially if your best mate has fallen in love with you, thinking you are someone else, and is pretty set on getting hitched, pronto. A back-up version of yourself can really come in handy, especially if they’re happy to marry a stranger at the drop of a hat.

DO reveal your true gender to your crush.
Do this at the soonest possible opportunity, or they might feel hurt that you’ve been lying to them literally the whole time you’ve known them. Admittedly, they might be fine and marry you, but you could also cause unnecessary duels. 
(See: DON’T get into a duel)

DO have your wedding your own way.
Just because it’s the done thing to all get married at the same time on the same day, you don’t have to follow the crowd when it comes to lifelong commitments. Why not elope and get married off stage? It’s your big day.




DON’T mope if they’re not interested.
It won’t help, and it can be really difficult for your friends/servants to keep entertaining you. Besides, while you’re pining after someone who isn’t interested, you might be missing out on somebody much better suited. Yeah, looking at you, Orsino.

DON’T work for someone you are in love with.
Look, falling for your boss is a tale as old as time (or at least the early 17thcentury). It might work out eventually, but not without a lot of duels/awkward conversations with HR.

DON’T deliver messages to your crush via a servant.
Or a friend, court jester, or any other third party. They probably won’t deliver the message exactly as you intended. In fact, you can pretty much bet that the exact opposite of what you were aiming to achieve will happen. Do your own dirty work.

DON’T get drunk and decide to write fake love letters to your boss from one of your colleagues.
Another HR issue waiting to happen. 

DON’T try and marry off your niece to your pal.
At the very least, ask her first. This one should really go without saying.

DON’T get into a duel.
Sure, it’s easier to resolve a love triangle if one of you is dead, but, yes, read that last bit again: one of you is dead. 
(See: DON’T get into a love triangle)

DON’T get in a love triangle.
This one is easier said than done: sometimes you can’t help it. At the very least, make sure the object of your affections is who they claim to be and not their twin brother/sister in disguise. 
(See: DO reveal your true gender to your crush)


Twelfth Night previews from tomorrow (15 February) in the Olivier Theatre. Visit the Twelfth Night page.