Hard to believe this is the first thread for one of the Bard's works, but I am sure it won't be the last.
The first play of my Shakey course this year and a nice way to start. The fairyland intrudes on the human world after the humans intrude in the fairyland.
There are many strands to this play but a quick synopsis of the plot goes like this. Theseus intends to marry Hippolyta. Egueus approaches Theseus for help with his wilful daughter Hermia, who refuses to marry Demetrius as she loves Lysander. Egeus wishes to exercise Athenian law which allows him to kill his daughter should she not marry Demetrius. And this is a comedy?! Helena loves Demetrius but he doesn't love her. Lost in the forest the four young lovers are met with mischief at the hand of Robin Goodfellow whom acting upon the wishes of Fairy King Oberon, drugs the wrong man and the ridiculousness and flippancy of young love is presented at its most comical.
Meanwhile, Oberon drugs his wife, the Fairy Queen, Titania, to fall in love with the first beast she spies on waking up, who happens to be an artisan called Bottom wearing as ass's head (see michevious Robin Goodfellow).
Now it's quite difficult to discuss or review a complex play such as the ones Shakey was wont to create, in isolation, so I do hope that fellowe Shakey fans in the BGO membership join in and an interesting discussion ensues.
I will say that, while I enjoyed the play very much, and love the malevolence in Fairyland, I wasn't immediately sold on Act 5 - the artisans' playlet Pyramus and Thisbe - it just seemed a little unnecessary and detracted form the main thrust of the play. Of course my study books quickly put me right, but study never entirely changes your opinion. My particular highlight was the details of Robin's error - it was deliciously mischevious.
I wasn't much looking forward to this play - Roman and Egyptian history doesn't interest me too much, and well, it just didn't feel like my kind of play. Not nearly enough blood and drama. And to be honest, after reading it, and now having listened to an audio performance of it, I wasn't much wrong.
Antony, is married to Fluvia but having an affair with Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. Fluvia dies and Cleo expects to step into her shoes, however her plans go awry when to make peace with Caesar, Antony marries Caesar's sister Octavia. In her fury Cleo switches allegiance to and fro, as does Antony's right hand man Enobarbus, and war is raged between Antony and Caesar.
The prose in this play is extremely varied and convoluted and just doesn't flow as well as other works. Plus it is pretty low on any good, solid, meaty drama. Cleo is a vain minx, and extremely hard to like. There is absolutely no empathy with her and therefore that makes it hard to stay engaged.
There is really only monologue that I really enjoyed, when Enobarbus realises his grave error and wishes to die. I'll post it when I have the text to hand.
All I can say is, thank the lord I don't have to do an essay on this one, 'cause I'd be struggling to get passionate about it.
It's taken me a fair few days to get to grips with this play. One read through was just not enough for me to understand, and it took 2 film performances for me to finally click with Lear.
Lear, full of pride, pomp, and a hint of narcissism, asks his 3 daughters to declare how much they love him. Goneril delivers a speech that so impresses her father that he gives her a third of his lands. Regan, outdoes her sister, by simply saying that Goneril spoke too small of her love, and earns herself a third of his lands. Cordelia cannot bring herself to declare as they do, simply acknowledges that she loves Lear as a daughter should love her father. Why do women, like her sisters marry, if it is true that all their love is for their father? Lear gives her third to the sisters, marries Cordelia off to France, and banishes her.
What a mistake. Goneril and Regan involve themselves in the business of driving Lear mad, and seizing the power for themselves. Meanwhile, Edmond, bastard son of Gloucester, conspires to rid himself of his half-brother Edgar (full son of Gloucester), and in doing so is involved in the two sisters' machinations. Edgar is banished, under the mistaken belief that he has been traitorous and plotted his father's demise, and pretends to be mad to go unrecognised.
While, quite frankly, some of the lines are enough to send you mad, there are some wonderful pieces, so engaging and visceral in performance. I loved the declarations at the outset, for their thinking, their calculations, and their endless performability. I loved Gloucester's torture at the hands of Goneril and Cornwall - so brutal and frightening.
This won't be one of my favourites by any means, but it's hard to find fault with the plotting of the antagonists.
And so to the performances. First up, I watched a 1976 Thames Shakespeare Collection film directed by Tony Davenall. This was old-school Shakey - no innovations, RP, standard sets and props...and a booming, poised, and perfectly enunciating Patrick Magee as Lear. Boring, staged, and over-rehearsed. This is the very thing that drives people screaming from Shakey.
Next up, a viewing requirement of the OU, Grigori Kozintsev's (1971) King Lear, or Korol Lir, as it is in Russian. Brilliant stuff and finally brought the play alive for me. Gothic, gloomy, relentless and believable. The problem with the text and the Davenall film for me was that Lear's flaw as a tragic character was his pride and arrogance in his status and power. He so quickly goes from the declaration scene to the seeds of madness that it was hard to invest in the tragedy. But Kozintsev's film really spends time and visuals on creating the vastly powerful ruler, assured in his status and arrogant in his self-belief.
Juli Jarvet, who play Lear, is a tiny man, especially so in comparison to the other cast members, and he does an amazing job of becoming this powerfully, arrogant ruler. Little by little, through costume and appearance the madness erodes him and he slowly, visibly pales on screen. Little changed about the outward appearance of Magee's Lear - a huge failure of the film.
The storm scene, unlike Davenall's studio space with fake lightning and purple backlight, is played on cracked tundra, with ferocious rain and booming thunder you can feel to your toes. Lear is drenched as he pounds out those lines.
Just an amazing accomplishment and one that will have me hunting out Kozintsev's Hamlet. I took one star off because I didn't think much of Edmond and Edgar - which was a disappointment. But I doubt you'll see a better Lear.
I'm an English Literature student and right now I have to write an essay comparing Sonnet 27 with Sonnet 130. So far, I've got two major differences, and one similarity (that they are both parodies). But I need another similarity please. The only thing I can come up with is the really obvious ones, which aren't what my tutor wants. (I'm thinking about iambic pentameter, sonnet structure, and that they're love poems).
I also read somewhere (outside of college stuff) that the first so many sonnets (including 27) were addressed to a man.
Outside of those points, I'd just like to hear what other people think of the sonnets in general.
Thanks for reading!