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…

Finding Ernest – A Digression. Part 1 – Wide and Waste

I paused over the neatly whited-out phrase. What is that? "fart arsed" Really? The liquid paper had begun to wear away and I could just see the print underneath. The book was "Blessings in Disguise", actor Alec Guinness' breezily indirect memoirs and I was reading a copy at my local public library. An earlier library patron…

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…

Sounds Boring

"Now look. Is it a fact that you're going to marry this sap, de Beaufort?" David Niven, crashing a party, demands of the beautiful Annabella, who gazes at him through her mask. "What is sap?", she replies. Niven considers for a moment, then "Sap..sap is a man who doesn't look where he's going" The movie…

Richard II

The romantic portrait of Richard II, definitively acted by John Gielgud and echoed by Derek Jacobi decades later is that of a graceful, charming aesthete playing the role first of an all-powerful monarch and then of a pitiful martyr, all the way using poetic language to cast a spell on the audience. Gielgud especially, with a…

It’s a phase

What temporary, language-related issues was Shakespeare working through when he wrote Love's Labours Lost? Is this some final attempt to erase the stigma of a mere player daring to match wits with the university men? The taffeta phrases of the King of Navarre and his lovesick companions, the hyperverbal sallies of Don Adriano de Armado and…