PTS 04/021 Boorish, Brusque, Bonkers …

The Taming Of The Shrew:  Act 1

BH Petruchio

Boorish, brusque, bonkers …

… but brilliant!

It’s been a while since I expressed some mild distaste at the prank played on the admittedly unsympathetic Christopher Sly at the beginning of this play.

(the reading continues to schedule, by the way, but I can see myself having to catch up on the act-by-act commentaries over the summer holidays)

Doing a bit of research – perhaps on the back of my reluctance to engage with the comedies, I found that the play has plenty of detractors, but I’ve seen it once – several years ago, at the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival – and enjoyed the performance.  The casting certainly seemed to back up Robert Atkins’ views:

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PTS 03/017: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes …

BH DavidBowie-portrait
Is it me, or would Bowie have made a terrific Richard?

Henry VI part III, Act III

RICHARD: ‘I can add colours to the chameleon,

Change shapes with Proteus for advantages’  (III.ii.191-192)

I’ll come back to Bowie’s song when I finally hit Richard III in August, because when I revisited the lyrics, I couldn’t avoid staring thoughtfully for a while.  I will remind Richard that:

‘And every time I thought I’d got it made,

It seemed the taste was not so sweet.’

Like Bolinbroke in RII, like Macbeth – like almost everyone in Shakespeare, let’s face it – the anticipation, the chase, is far better than the conquest, when it comes to the crown.

In the meantime, nothing seems to stay the same in Act III …

Continue reading “PTS 03/017: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes …”

PTS 02/009: England – A Nest of Hollow Bosoms

BH HVI II Eleanor and Margaret
This country ain’t big enough for the two of us … bitch!

 

What mightst thou do, that honour would thee do,

Were all thy children kind and natural!

But see,thy fault France hath in thee found out,

A nest of hollow bosoms.  (CHORUS, Henry V:  II.0.18-21)

Henry VI II:  Act I

It’s a strange thing, patriotism. 

I’ll try to make this the final time I mention how I don’t feel especially patriotic towards England as opposed to Britain, but the beginning of the play causes me to examine my attitudes again.  It probably says something about my pedantic nature that I can’t simply conflate the two.  Or maybe it’s simply the fact that my Welsh girlfriend would probably dump me!  Either way, I suddenly became acutely aware of an inchoate fear for the country.  Ye-e-es, there was some fear for Henry, about to be eaten alive by his Queen like a hapless spider, but the sympathy I felt for Henry as a child effectively evaporated in the white heat of his ineffectuality.  It facilitated of the betrayal of my new Shakespearean heroes, the Talbots, and so isn’t easily forgiven or forgotten.  So it wasn’t what Margaret might or might not do to Henry that worried me.  It was how she might treat England

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PTS 01/008: Henry VI (1) The Soundtrack Album

bh-wurlitzerAs I finish each play in the Ponytail Shakespeare series read-through, I’ve decided to create a soundtrack album for my own personal Shakespeare Jukebox.

NOT necessarily representative of my musical tastes, of course!  Just titles or indeed lyrics that made me smile in the context of the play.

I’d love to hear what I’ve missed, so get in touch!

Continue reading “PTS 01/008: Henry VI (1) The Soundtrack Album”

PTS 01/007: HVI (1) farewell …

bh-hvi-1-david-nordahl
Image:  David Nordahl

I wanted to reflect on the play as a whole, looking back to my ‘Expectations’ back at the end of January.

Good literature is like a magic trick.  It makes you believe you are in a different time and place, and care for characters who are constructs, and react to their (also fictitious) actions as if you were a participant. 

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PTS01/005: Where’s a night-tripping fairy when you need one?

bh-talbot-in-battleO, that it could be proved

That some night-tripping fair had exchanged

In cradle-clothes our children where they lay,

(KING HENRY IV:  Henry IV 1, I.i.85-87)

Henry VI 1:  Act IV

Talk about someone having ‘greatness thrust upon them’!

O, Henry, Henry, Henry … Continue reading “PTS01/005: Where’s a night-tripping fairy when you need one?”

PTS 01/004: We need Talbots, not bastards …

bh-henry-vi-coronation
NO-ONE looks pleased by Henry’s coronation …

Henry VI 1:  Act III

Writing about this act has been an almost painful task.

It would have been too too easy to continue with the ‘Carry On Up the Dolphin’ theme I’d adopted for Act II, but I didn’t feel up to it, aside from referencing the incorrigible overfamiliarity of Charles:

Ay marry, sweeting, if we could do that,

France were no place for Henry’s warriors. (III.iii.21-2)

Continue reading “PTS 01/004: We need Talbots, not bastards …”