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.…

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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…

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…

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…

Women and Fools

King John is the Shakespeare play that no one likes, and for good reason. Not only are there no heroes, there isn't even a place for your sympathies to engage. Listening to it is like watching players of an unknown game ¬†- you know there are rules and people are rooting, cheering, talking trash and…

Philomel (with Melody)

After a depressingly inaccessible Romeo and Juliet, the Argo recording of Midsummer Night's dream opened up like box of riches. This is far and away my favorite recording of the play, and there are some strong contenders in the audio realm (as well as some fine films). RCA Victor (1954) The success of the RCA…