Gabrielle Brooks: Twelfth Night

If Shakespeare were alive today, I reckon he’d be working with Shaina Taub to transform soliloquies into song. And asking Gabrielle Brooks to sing them for him:

“Oh disguise, you are the Devil’s blessing” is a masterstroke of a line for a songwriter. It gives a nod to the sixteenth century and neatly sums up the modern Viola’s problem: now that she’s disguised as a man, the world treats her differently, but the man she loves loves a woman who has fallen in love with her instead. Viola would never have got close to Orsino if she hadn’t been disguised as a man, but will he love her once he knows that she’s not what she’s pretending to be? We’ve had 400 years since Shakespeare died, but we still haven’t worked out where identity lies.

Shaina Taub has made her lyrics for the musical version of Viola’s soliloquy available here. The words on the page look interesting, but, like all lyrics, they only come alive in the mouth of a singer, as she weaves them into the music.

Gabrielle Brooks sings as if she’s thinking, as if she’s never sung the words before. She doesn’t sound as if she’s acting or ‘singing Shakespeare’. She has made the words her own. I love the way she sings the name ‘Olivia’.

Here’s Joanna Lumley speaking Viola’s ring soliloquy, as it appears in Shakespeare’s original verse :

And here’s Shaina Taub singing The Visitors:

If you’re in London, try to get tickets for Twelfth Night at the Young Vic. It’s the first play in Kwame Kwei-Armah’s run as director and runs until November 17th. It looks set to sell out.

©Sing Better English 2018

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One thought on “Gabrielle Brooks: Twelfth Night”

  1. What a magnificent collection of videos you have rounded up for your readers! Gabrielle Brooks’ voice is sublime — but strangely, I appreciate the musicality and cadence of the verse even more in Joanna Lumley’s capable delivery. And Shaina Taub? Pure delight! Thank you for another of your wonderful, illuminating posts!

    Liked by 1 person

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