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review 2018-04-24 15:53
Timon of Athens / William Shakespeare
Timon of Athens - William Shakespeare,Thomas Middleton

Timon of Athens is a bitterly intriguing study of a fabulously rich man who wastes his wealth on his friends, and, when he is finally impoverished, learns to despise humanity with a hatred that drives him to his grave.

 

This is probably the Shakespearean play that I like the least of those that I have seen thus far. The plot line reminded me strongly of many celebrities today, who have made a ton of money and don’t really pay attention to the details of it. They spend wildly on themselves and their hangers-on, and then suddenly find themselves bankrupt. Just as suddenly, all of their “friends” disappear, leaving them holding the bills. Timon follows this pattern to a T.

But, more often than not, today’s celebrities pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and reorganize their lives and end up living in a more modest, reasonable way. They realize their part in the whole debacle. Timon doesn’t—he blames everyone, even the people who tried to help him. And it’s all everyone else’s fault, he doesn’t accept a bit of blame for his misfortunes. He goes from one extreme to the other—from wealth to living in a cave eating roots. When he discovers buried treasure, instead of taking responsibility & getting his life back on track, he once again uses it to prove that he is hard-done by.

I can see why this play is rarely performed now—Timon’s form of self-denial after his ruin is hard for me to empathize with. I can understand being more careful in relations with other people, but I don’t understand his Unabomber-like withdrawal from human society. For me, roughing it is a cheap motel, so you won’t find me living in cave no matter how low my fortunes may fall.

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review 2018-03-28 18:52
Globe
Globe: Life in Shakespeare's London - Catharine Arnold

[I received a copy of this book through Netgalley.]

I love going to the Globe, although I can’t afford it very often (but I still try to enjoy at least a couple of plays a year, which is the least I can do considering I almost live on its doorstep by London standards ;)). My knowledge about how it came to be was a bit fragmented, so I was glad to be able to read this book.

Throughout it, you can feel the author’s passion for her subject—the device of fictionalising Shakespeare’s first visit to London isn’t what I’d expect from academic research, and I’m not sure it’s pareticularly welcome, but on the other hand, it’s definitely a window on that passion I mentioned, and is entertaining no matter what. It’s also a window on London at the end of the 16th and the early 17th centuries, and I admit I wish this window would’ve been larger, because I couldn’t get enough details on what the city must’ve looked and felt like at that time, all the more now that I can fully compare it to nowadays London (Shoreditch for Burbage’s original Theatre, Bankside for the Globe, the Rose and Blackfriars’ locations, and so on).

I appreciated that the book chronicled the building of the modern Globe, which I believe is as much part of that theatre’s history as the original one, for starters because it’s on its way to last just as long and possibly more, considering the length of its current lease. I learnt about quite a few interesting facts in both cases, from the controversy around Sam Wanamaker’s project (an American trying to resurrect the Globe! So shocking!) to how the original Globe came to be, built from the timbers of the Theatre that Burbage & Co happily scavenged to keep their dream going.

The book also sheds light on the political and social climate at the time, an interesting part since Shakespeare’s plays were often in accordance with current events for his public to better relate. On the other hand, I believe I spotted some factual mistakes that may have been corrected through more careful editing (but I’m not a specialist, so, well, for what it’s worth…).

Conclusion: A good introduction that paves the way for more reading, although not going in-depth.

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review 2018-03-26 20:27
Hamlet / William Shakespeare
Hamlet (Cambridge School Shakespeare) - William Shakespeare,Rex Gibson,Richard Andrews

I went to an encore screening of Hamlet, starring Benedict Cumberbatch this weekend.  I went in a bit skeptical, thinking that he might be a bit too old to be playing the part of a young man in university, but he won me over.

 

Hamlet is my favourite Shakespearean play and it’s been a long time since I saw it performed.  It remains my fav, and I’m so impressed with how many quotes and sayings from the play are still widely used in current discourse.

 

The theatre, naturally, was filled with mostly grey-haired folk, so there was a bit of a universal snort when Hamlet tells his mother that she’s old and shouldn’t be interested in sex anymore!  Since this is the first time I’ve seen the play since losing my own parents, I found myself much more sympathetic to Hamlet’s situation however, expected to get over the death of his father in a mere two months! 

 

A most enjoyable experience.

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review 2018-02-18 15:08
Collected Plays for Children - Ted Hughes

The Tiger's Bones

 

A bizarrely political tale that takes a side-swipe at Colonial-industrial exploitation of less developed nations in passing. A hubristic scientist is astonishingly idiotic - and not, in my opinion, an accurate stereotype except in terms of egotism. Deeply sceptical of science and engineering at the same time as taking advantage of both in order to produce mass market copies of the book itself...

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text 2018-02-16 17:10
Reading progress update: I've read 27 out of 144 pages.
Collected Plays for Children - Ted Hughes

The Coming of the Kings

 

The Nativity, Ted Hughes style! (An interesting choice since he wasn't Christian, or formally religious at all.) Ever wondered what the innkeepers thought about events in Bethlehem that night? Read here to find out. Try to ignore the dumb mistake where they decide to cook a pig...

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