Orsino, the Duke of lllyria, is in love with his neighbour, the Countess Olivia. She has sworn to avoid men's company for seven years while she mourns the death of her brother, so rejects him. Nearby a group of sailors arrive on shore with a young woman, Viola, who has survived a shipwreck in a storm at sea. Viola mourns the loss of her twin brother but decides to dress as a boy to get work as a page to Duke Orsino.
Viola finds herself falling in love with Orsino - a difficult love to pursue, as Orsino believes her to be a man. But when Orsino sends Cesario to deliver Orsino's love messages to the disdainful Olivia, Olivia herself falls for the beautiful young Cesario, believing her to be a man. The love triangle is complete: Viola loves Orsino, Orsino loves Olivia, and Olivia loves Cesario (Viola in diguise).
Photograph by Christopher Pearce (Panic Pictures)