Thursday, September 23, 2010

As You LIke It: Dude Looks Like a Lady, Sorts Everybody Out

Rosalind by R.W. Macbeth (1887) - with a name like that, you just have to draw something from Shakespeare!

I liked my other subtitle idea better: “As You Like It: Four Weddings, No Funeral” – but it didn’t really leave me with a whole lot to say.

The conflicts in As You Like It, in one sense, center around two feuding sets of brothers. Duke Frederick has usurped the Dukedom of his older (and aptly named) brother Duke Senior, while elder brother Oliver has neglected (and quickly steps up his villain-game by trying to murder) his own younger and better-liked brother Orlando.

But these feuds really only bookend the play’s action. The real focus of the play is on the various roadblocks and pitfalls facing certain young would-be-lovers. There are four different couples to marry off by the end of the play, and a lot needs sorting in order for that to happen. There is only one man for the job – and it’s a woman. Ok, it’s a woman dressed like a man. Ok, you got me: if you want to get really technical it’s a man playing a woman playing a man.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hamlet (2009)

When I discovered that Doctor Who (David Tennant) plays Hamlet, and Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) plays Claudius and the Ghost in this BBC-produced, Gregory Doran-directed version of Hamlet, I was beside myself with excitement. I grew up with Stewart’s Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and my wife and I have spent the last couple years catching up on (and loving every minute of) Tennant’s run as the tenth Doctor on Doctor Who. Needless to say, I was completely geeking out to realize so many of my favorite worlds had herein collided.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hamlet: Supernatural Suspense and The Ethics of War

Hamlet and His Father's Ghost by William Blake (1806)

I’m absolutely amazed by this play. There are so many layers! This was easily my fifth or sixth time reading it, and yet I continue to find new elements. On the surface, there is certainly enough action and excitement to entertain the casual observer, but apparently close readers can come back again and again, each time well-rewarded for their time and trouble. It seems perfectly clear to me why this play garners so much attention, why it is so synonymous with Shakespeare’s genius, why it is the go-to play at every level of education: it is just that good.