I’ve just finished reading a book, Henry V, War Criminal and Other Shakespearian Puzzles, which explores a number of puzzles, and apparent contradictions, in some (or in fact most) of Shakespeare’s plays. I guess when you happen to be this hugely famous author any little mistake, or apparent mistake, is suddenly scrutinised extensively, and debated over by academics of all stripes. Then we have somebody like Shakespeare, who in many cases is viewed as not just one of, but the greatest, writer that the English language has ever produced, and we are speaking of a language that has produced countless numbers of great writers. However while writers such as Charles Dickens can produce a love/hate relationship, Shakespeare seems to be loved by all (except for those high school students who are forced to study his plays).
If you are reading this post and have not seen the movie then I recommend that you stop reading now and go and see it. There are two reasons – first of all, you probably won’t understand what I am writing about if you haven’t seen the movies, and that this post will contain an awful lot of spoilers. As with my other posts on movies, this is not a review, namely because I prefer to go much deeper into movies than simply looking at them in a superficial way as you would in a review. Anyway, I’ve already written a review of the film on IMBD (and there are plenty of reviews of the film there anyway).
Normally I don’t go and see all that many, if any, contemporary plays (namely plays that have been written during my life-time), and after seeing Hangmen I realised why – they tend to be quite boring. Okay, I probably shouldn’t bag this particular play too much, however, despite it being English black comedy (which tends to be really good), the play itself didn’t hold my interest all that much. The main reason that I went and saw it (and it was one of the National Theatre Live productions by the way) was that it was advertised at another film/play that I saw recently (As You Like It) and it looked quite interesting (and it also gave me an excuse to get out of the house for a while, since I tend to travel all the way to Brighton to see these film/plays).
One day I was perusing the internet to see what Shakespeare plays were available on DVD. It probably had something to do with having seen a particularly good version of a play at the cinema as a part of the National Theatre Live productions, and I wanted to see if some of them were available for purchase (unfortunately, at this stage, this doesn’t seem to be the case). However my eyes fell upon a production of Richard II by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and it starred David Tennant. Most of us are probably familiar with him as Doctor Who, however, I had recently discovered that he had starred alongside Patrick Stewart (of the Star Trek and X-Men fame) in a version of Hamlet. As such, I made it a priority to get my hands on a copy of this DVD.
Imagine being a little boy who has grown up knowing only one world, and one thing, and then suddenly discovering that this whole world is actually a lie. In fact, imagine being a little boy of about the age of 10 who has grown up being told that a certain people are horrid demonic monsters, only to discover that, once again, this is all a lie. Well, not even that, but actually meeting somebody who completely dispels this whole concept that has been fed to you all of your life.
Okay, before I continue it would be best that I mention that I am working on the assumption that you have seen this film, which means that there will be spoilers. Anyway I generally don’t write these posts as reviews, namely because I generally do that on IMDB (though I haven’t touched Rotten Tomatoes, and am unlikely to do so since I really don’t have the time to post all of my reviews up there as well, but who knows, I might do so in the future).
I initially suggested that I have seen the Tempest three times on my Goodreads and Booklikes posts that is) but now that I think about it I believe I have only seen it twice before I saw this production (and I believe that both of those previous productions were also by the Bell Shakespeare Company). Anyway, when I discovered that they were staging another production (this time only in Sydney) I pretty quickly booked my tickets because it happens to be one of my favourite Shakespearian plays.
I must really not know my way around the Australian theatre scene because other than the state theatre companies, the only other theatre company that I know of (and have regularly seen productions) is the Bell Shakespeare Company (Bell). However, a few people that I have spoken with in my literary circles seem to have a very low opinion of Bell.