And then this happened…

Delighted to enter the strange, beautiful world of Shakespeare's Romances - a world where verse and prose are stylistically inconsistent (due in part to collaboration with other playwrights, but also to the poet's increasingly complex relationship to the formal constraints of iambic pentameter). A world where character development is non-existent and plots are driven not…

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Cleopatra and Antony

A YouTube video posted by the Royal Shakespeare Company advertises, with calm futility, a 2010 production of Antony and Cleopatra. The video's description sticks in my mind - "Two charismatic and powerful leaders find in each other an irresistible and yet unattainable." Ignoring the curious omission of a final object for the sentence (unattainable what?),…

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…

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…

Star No Star

If ever there was a part that invited a "star" performance, it's Richard, Duke of Gloucester. It's gigantic (in Richard III alone, he has¬†1,171 lines in a play that's 3,609 lines long!), spread over three plays, and has multiple opportunities for an actor to indulge in thespian pyrotechnics - the wooing of Lady Anne, the…

Bunchback’d Toad

Antony Sher's Richard III was famously (and brilliantly) the "bottled spider" of Queen Margaret's curses, moving about the stage with arthropoid grace. Patrick Wymark's is her "bunchback'd toad", a croaking, earthy¬†creature prone to sudden, calculated leaps. Angry at life, he needs the violence of war as an outlet for his rage, and the crown seems…

Henry VI Part Three

One of the high points of The Wars of the Roses, John Barton's adaptation of the three parts of Henry VI, was Queen Margaret's speech to her followers as they approached King Edward's army at Tewkesbury for their final face-off. Having just lost the forces of the great Earl of Warwick as well as that…