The Scottish Play

It is been over a year since I have returned from Europe and I realised that I haven’t yet written about Macbeth. Actually, there are quite a lot of things that I have been meaning to write about, both on this blog and on my travel blog, that I simply haven’t got around to doing just yet. I guess a part of it is because there is an awful lot of stuff that I could write about, and also with work and with other things that have got in the way, the amount that I have been able to write has been limited. However, of late I have only intended to post one post a week (and one post a fortnight on my travel blog), and there has been plenty of stuff for me to post that I guess letting a number of things drift isn’t all that bad. However, I did see Macbeth, and I should at least put some time aside to write about it.

His Pound of Flesh – The Merchant of Venice

As I was sitting in the theatre watching this play a part of me was wondering if there is actually much more that I could write about this play than the obvious – racism, feminism, and maybe homosexuality. In a way these three aspects seem to dominate the Merchant of Venice, with some critics simply writing it off as some anti-semetic rant of Shakespeare’s. In a way I can understand why people see it that way because our Jewish anti-hero does come across as vengeful, greedy, and quite unforgiving.

Shakesperian Connundrums – or are They?

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).

Richard II – A King Without Friends

Well, it seems that within a period of two months I have managed to see Richard II twice, the first was a DVD that I had ordered of the Royal Shakespeare Company production starring David Tennant, and the second one being a production by the Globe Theatre. Actually, I had no idea that the Globe version was going to be showing at one of the local (or not so local as the case may be because it did take an hour and a half, by train, to get from my home to the cinema) cinemas when I watched the DVD a little while back, though as I have mentioned in my previous post (though having a look at the date that it was posted – 5th May – I’d probably be more accurate in suggesting that I watched it quite some time ago), the lack of good plays in Australia means that I am more than willing to make the trek to see another version.

Richard III – Rise of a Tyrant

Back in 1995 I was invited by some friends to go and watch a cinematic production of Richard III at a small art-house theatre in one of Adelaide’s Eastern Suburbs. I had heard of Richard III (the King that is, but then again most of us who have watched Black Adder, or even paid attention to a particular carpark in England, have probably heard of the guy), however I had never actually seen the play. Being Shakespeare I had no problems going, however I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect.

Hangmen – A Redundant Executioner

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).

The Boy King – Richard II

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.

Riches to Rags – McKellan’s King Lear

My original plan was to publish this post on the 23rd of April, which was the 400 year anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. However, due to slackness on my part (and also my failure to actually do any research into the exact date) that unfortunately has not happened. Anyway, it was fitting that if there is one play that I would write about for the belated 400-year commemoration post it should be King Lear since it is probably my favourite of all Shakesperian plays (at least among the tragedies).

A Troublesome Play – The Taming of the Shrew

I remember when I first read this play and I was actually rather shocked and appalled. In fact, if there are any of Shakespeare’s plays that are going to rub up against the grain of our modern society then it is certainly going to be this one – the reason being that the whole plot is about how a husband figuratively beats his wife into submission. Sure, his wife is definitely one nasty piece of work, but the thing is, living in a world where more women are killed by their husbands/partners in domestic violence situations than terrorist attacks (at least in developed countries) one wonders why such a play is still staged, and one also wonders why I actually sat down and spent three hours watching it.