[book review] Michael Bogdanov – Shakespeare: The Director’s Cut

cover bogdanovMichael BogdanovShakespeare : The Director’s Cut (Capercaillie Books:  Edinburgh, 2005)

As soon as I read the Introduction to Bogdanov’s book, I blogged excitedly about it – I sensed a kindred spirit: someone I would have enjoyed a boisterous, passionate debate with over a few drinks.

The book consistently lived up to the opening fireworks. It consists of a suite of lively, thought-provoking and refreshingly irreverent essays on plays that Bogdanov has been professionally involved in bringing to the stage. To this end, there’s a brisk practicality about some of his commentary that those not involved in stagecraft might find insightful.

Bogdanov’s writing style is peppered with rapid-fire questions and links to modern situations and politics. He jumps, restlessly, from idea to idea, often leaving us with a ‘drop-mic’ moment before leaping to another mad notion. Here’s an example:

“What is his [Malcolm’s] reaction on being present when Macduff receives the news of the slaughter of his family?

“Be this the whetstone of your sword; let grief
Convert to anger; Blunt not the heart, enrage it (Act IV, scene iii)

Use it, Macduff, use it!

Malcolm seizes with alacrity the opportunity offered him on a plate. Here’s the perfect guy to do the work of sorting out Macbeth for him. Macduff’s consuming desire for revenge makes him the ideal weapon of mass destruction. Malcolm can send him in to do battle against Macbeth without having to put himself anywhere near the front line. Then walk in and claim the victory. What a shit.”

If you’re a student of just one Shakespeare play, it might be worth trying to get hold of a copy from a library to read the associated essay; anyone with a broader interest in the plays should buy and enjoy it!

(originally read, April 2018)

Author: Boar's Head, Eastcheap

Hyperactive English Teacher and Tutor; Shakespeare-obsessed 'Villainous abominable misleader of youth'; 'old white-bearded Satan'; Friend of the Orangutan

4 thoughts on “[book review] Michael Bogdanov – Shakespeare: The Director’s Cut”

  1. Just managed to lay hands on a copy free to read on Amazon Prime. I shall take this on holiday and enjoy it. Hopefully he’s got something to say about Macbeth (which we saw at the weekend, in a somewhat truncated version – just short of 2.5 hours) at the Rose Theatre pop-up at Blenheim. It was good but I thought it had its shortcomings too, mostly the breakneck pace.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Must admit I tend to like a slightly slower pace to the plays. Can I ask (because there’s been a discussion of Reddit about this), how did they deal with the phantom dagger scene? Really hope you enjoy the Bogdanov – do let me know how you get on with it.


  2. And in a fit of insomnia last night I started reading it…

    The phantom dagger seemed to be in the possession of the groundlings, who I suspect got far more than they’d bargained for when they bought their tickets. It was very rapidly run through though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Someone – not me, alas – has pointed out that as soon as you have a physical dagger, everyone is watching that, evaluating how it’s been achieved. Not giving full attention to Macbeth. It’s one of those times when someone articulates something much better than you feel you could. How distracting was that interpretation?


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