Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Question of the Week

Maybe Hamlet was the wrong play to foster romance in the first place...
In A Dream Came True, Jemima is delighted to be in Stratford-upon-Avon because of her proximity to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.  The Venerable Neels goes on to list a bunch of the Bard's plays and Jemima's thoughts on them:
  • Winter's Tale (she'd seen it)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream (she never liked it--'all those people milling round a wood, pretending not to see each other...')
  • Richard II  (it would be nice)
  • Othello (no comment)
  • And when there is a choice between Much Ado About Nothing and Hamlet, she hopes it will be Hamlet (but when it is, that danged Kiwi all but ruins it for her)
  • Alexander takes Gloria to see All's Well That Ends Well (which Jemima thought was appropriate for them and which Gloria probably contemplating slitting her wrists during)
I know a bunch of those (not all) and add to my portfolio Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, Henry V, King Lear, The Taming of the Shrew, and Merchant of VeniceHere's a complete list of his works.

So, let's kick this around a bit.  We all know at least some Shakespeare (thank heavens).  What's your favorite?  And your least?  Any favorite versions?  And do you and The Great Betty part company on A Midsummer Night's Dream? (Which I am not qualified to comment on as I've never seen a complete production...)


  1. I have some fondness for "the Scottish play" but my favorite is Kenneth Branagh's movie version of Hamlet. Yum.

    Personally? I don't like Romeo & Juliet as much as I should -- talk about a misunderstanding that could have been cleared up with just a tiny bit more effort...

  2. I'm afraid I have to admit to being horribly low-brow, but I'm going to have to pick The Taming of the Shrew as my fav...and to prove myself even lower-brow, my favorite version is Kiss Me Kate, with possibly the Moonlighting episode coming in second.

    I remember seeing A Midsummer Night's Dream when I was in high school - possible my first exposure to Shakespeare performed 'live'. As it was done by a group of high school actors it, it might not have been the greatest production, but I remember liking it (of course, at that age I probably had a crush on someone in the play, which would definitely predispose me to like the play).

  3. I'm a huge fan of Henry V, and Julius Caesar. The Tempest might be next. Midsummer Night's Dream, not so much. I kind of agree with Betty.

  4. The Merchant of Venice. Only because I had to memorize 'I am a Jew' (Shylock) and Portia's Mercy defense for a Great Masterpieces class in high school. I think I can still recite them both! (Not to mention the poem 'Little Boy Blue' that my super cool 8th grade teacher made up memorize with Punctuation!)

  5. I had to read the parts of both Katherine (typecasting!) and Ophelia in high school. I spent a month with the class gleefully yelling "Get thee to a nunnery". I was never fond of that play.

  6. Favorite: Twelfth Night Least Favorite: Merchant of Venice

  7. Betty Barbara here--
    Can't say these are my favorite Shakespeare plays, but I have seen several live productions. The first was a college production in the late 1960's-King Lear, with a post nuclear apocalypse setting. Betty Margaret's older brother was one of the mutant peasants in the background, so we were kinda required to see that one(snerk).
    Betty Margaret and I also trekked off to see James Earl Jones and Christopher Plummer in Othello. They were fantastic, the gal playing Desdemona--not so much. We also saw Plummer and Glenda Jackson in the Scottish Play. They were each wonderful by themselves, but lacked a certain chemistry in their scenes together.
    Personally, I prefer S's comedies; 12th Night, Two Gentlemen of Verona, etc. But my all time fave is The Tempest. Sigh.
    I will also confess to having a very soft spot in my heart for Franco Zeffirelli's movie version of The Taming of the Shrew, with Liz Taylor and Richard Burton!

  8. The Scottish play in any form ever since required reading for Senior English at Van Horn High School (graduating class of 67, not 1967 but 67 students) . McMurry University had a production that sent chills down one's spine even with students flunking my class playing leads. However, last summer my sons (then ages 9 & 10) participated in a local Parks & Rec Camp Bill summer day camp for a week that resulted in a version of it that had the audience gasping for air in hysterical laughter. May be the funniest play I've ever seen.

    Hate Hamlet. Really hate Hamlet with Laurence Olivier.

    Never knew much Henry V until Kenneth Branagh's movie. Suspect my adoration has to do with the music matched with the words at St. Crispin's Day speech more than anything else.

    Twelfth Night because as a child our family copy of it had pictures of the production with Vivien Leigh whom I knew from Gone with the Wind so I read it and liked it since elementary school.

    Like The Taming of the Shrew. Recently (thank you Bettys) saw it with Rufus Sewell--grew on me. Love Kiss Me, Kate but agree with Moonlighting coming in close second. Hate Liz and Richard.

    Othello, Much Ado about Nothing, Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard II, Julius Caesar (required freshman English at VHHS, back in the day one had to read real stuff)--all fun too.

  9. Julius Caesar is the only Shakespearean play I truly know, having had to study that in 9th grade, too. (When Miss Rachel was in 9th grade last year I found out that our local school district still requires it for high school freshman, along with The Odyssey. We had wonderful talk about both.)

    I've seen parts of many of them, and studied parts of others in school, but that's it. Its been interesting to read your various opinions. I've been feeling obliged to watch one or two on Netflix.

    BTW, do any of you Facebook and would you be interesting in expanding our friendships in that direction?


  10. My favorites are Hamlet, Macbeth and Othello. I even like my Shakespeare Noir. Twelfth Night and a Midsummer Night's Dream will always a special place in my heart. can't stand Romeo and Juliet. And Henry V well the St. Crispin's day speech makes it.

  11. I was lucky enough to see some productions by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford in the summer of '86: Romeo & Juliet, A Midsummer Nights Dream, Troilus and Cressida, and Everyman and his Humour (not Shakespeare, but a contemporary). The staging was incredible- R&J ( which I usually loathe) was done in a Miami Vice style, since that show had just hit Britain and was quite a sensation. Hamlet was the first WS play I ever saw, and I loved it. If we're including adaptations, I recommend the BBCs Shakespeare Re-told treatment of Macbeth. It's set in a Michelin-starred restaurant. The sous chef's wife convinces her husband that he- not the famous executive chef -is the key to the restaurant's success, and isn't it handy that he's so good with a knife?some Bettys might find the language a bit rough, and of course there's some violence, but for me these things fade into insignificance because James McAvoy plays the Macbeth character. Yes, he's about 10 years younger than I am, but the heart doesn't know jack about such things :-p

  12. James McAvoy...sigh...he's 20 years too young for me (oh, and I'm married), but he's still a babe.

  13. Betty Andrea wins Best Comment of the Week. James McAvoy is a short glass of water...

  14. I really enjoyed the Shakespeare Retold series. Loved The Taming of the Shrew and Macbeth.

  15. Betty Debbie - since it's all imaginary, age and marital status are irrelevant (although it is interesting that the lovely James is also married, and to a woman who is almost a decade older than he, the outrageously talented actress Anne-Marie Duff). I think there are certainly more handsome actors out there, but that accent is just magic.

    Betty Keira - short in stature, but long on charm and character, too, I think. I remember an interview he did after The Last King of Scotland in which he talked about how filming in Uganda completely changed his perception of his place in the world. He said that so many people who grow up working class in Glasgow (as he did) have a chip on their shoulder. They feel like everybody else has all the advantages, that they are "hard done by," as the Scots say, and he had this attitude, too, until he went to Uganda and saw what REAL adversity was, what REAL deprivation was, and how the Ugandans persevered without self-pity.

    I'm not saying it as eloquently as he did, but what he was saying was that we tend to get so caught up in our petty wants and day to day frustrations that we don't recognize how privileged we are in comparison most of the world's populations.

    He seemed very genuine and refreshing.