Not one of us

The problem with Twelfth Night is that Malvolio never quite lives up to his name. With all his priggish narcissism he is never quite genuinely mean enough to give his humiliation true comic value. When he chides the midnight revelers to keep quiet and cease their drunken brawling he does have a point, after all.…

Sweet Prince

Hamlet's appeal is inexhaustible - everyone can sympathize with the character who finds himself alone and without allies in the midst of an apparently hostile or at least unfriendly environment. No life is without responsibilities that must be undertaken alone and without anyone else to share the risk or the blame. Hamlet is faced with…

Escape

As You Like It, my favorite Shakespeare comedy - everyone runs off to the forest and hijinks ensue. Evil Duke Frederick has overthrown his brother, the rightful Duke, and banished him and some others - including, later on, the banished Duke's daughter, Rosalind. Since Frederick's own daughter, Celia, is Rosalind's close friend, the two girls…

Good Guys and Bad Guys

Julius Caesar used to be a common text for high school english textbooks (is it still?) I had read just enough about the play by the time my class read it in high school to know the basic hero/villain classification - Brutus was the tragic hero and Mark Antony the villain. But I fell into…

War Noises

I've thought on this recording for several days, unable to wrap my head around it. Henry V gives me the same uneasy feeling as Merchant of Venice - the sense that it's pitched for a very specific audience that no longer exists. Shakespeare takes a familiar popular theme and scrambles it, adding elements that appear to…

I got nothing

Stuck. Stuck and ashamed. I can't think of anything to say about Much Ado About Nothing. I have no hook to tie together a short essay, no vaguely relevant memoir of my personal life, no obscure theatrical figure to research. The play is one of Shakespeare most nearly perfect compositions. The deft interweaving of serious…

Deconstruction Work

What do you do if you’re a successful playwright at the top of your game and you have some good will to burn off? You experiment! Henry IV Part 2 is Shakespeare taking the thematic elements of Part 1 and deconstructing them like a madman. In the place of the riotously funny Tavern Scene in […]

Middle Aged Man – A Tragedy

I remember the moment I realized that I was middle-aged. I was taking a course at a nearby community college, and the campus had buildings that were a good distance from the lot where I was parked. I was running a little late, and acted on a sudden impulse to break into a run. The…

Two Guys

It's my favorite scene in Shakespeare, and it begins with my two favorite characters. Two guys are stumbling around in the dark at 2 am, trying to get their horses ready so they can make a delivery to London. They've had a miserable night. The inn they are staying at is a flea-infested dump and…

It is what it is.

I wasn't looking forward to diving into Merchant of Venice again - when I was a kid, I could get swept up in the poetry and romance and high drama. I went to England one summer when I was in college and met up with a group of local undergraduates who were doing a round-the-clock…