Friday, February 8, 2013

Shakespeare Uncovered

Hey, hey, ladies.
 This isn't really a book review, but a few words on a television show about Shakespeare, who the vast majority of us have had to read at one point in our lives. So, the PBS program Shakespeare Uncovered, counts as a book right?

I wasn't one of those people who had to read Shakespeare. I wanted to read him. Twelfth Night was my first Shakespeare play in the 10th grade and I was lucky enough to have a teacher who made it fun, as it should be since it's a comedy. I hated Macbeth in 11th grade, but loved the idea of divine order. To me, Macbeth wasn't so much a story of power lust and revenge as it was a lesson in what would happen to you if you upset the delicate balance set down by divine forces. Macbeth kills Duncan and then the horses start eating each other for crying out loud. Horses just don't roll that way. Macbeth has since become one of my favorites.

And Duncan's horses started eating each other. Again.

In 12th grade, I was enthralled by Hamlet. I still am. I always will be. The first time I read it, I didn't know how it ended. I was mesmerized. I sped through it while most of the rest of my class got frustrated. I became obsessed with the idea of the supernatural in Hamlet, and have mentally placed it in the realm of sci-fi and fantasy for a long time. In fact, I see a lot of Shakespeare's plays that way - Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream, King Lear, and most obviously, The Tempest. I will forever love Kenneth Branaugh's four hour Hamlet. It's slick and sexy without taking away from the original text. However, I would advise everyone to stay away from the Mel Gibson and Ethan Hawke productions. Mel Gibson's Hamlet is heavy handed and self serving. Ethan Hawke's edition s also self serving and oh so very whiny. Even though I know the story backward and forward by heart, I was really hoping Claudius would just murder the little stink pot in the first act. Not even Bill Murray as Polonius could save the movie. Ugh.

Contrary to popular belief, not everything Bill Murray does is awesome.
Anyway, my husband found this amazing mini-series on PBS called Shakespeare Uncovered. Every episode features a different Shakespeare play with an actor, famous for being in said play, interviewing other actors and directors who have also worked on said play at one time or another. I've seen two episodes so far - Richard II with Derek Jacobi (who killed it as Claudius in Branaugh's Hamlet - heh heh) and Henry IV parts I and II with Jeremy Irons and Tom Hiddleston.

Once more into the breach, my minions! P.S. I know that misappropriated quote is from Henry V, but whatevs. Just look at the Hiddles.
If you love Shakespeare, do yourself a favor and get your eyeballs on Shakespeare Uncovered. Watching different actors take on the same role within each play is incredibly fascinating. The series is like an extended version of the Al Pacino documentary, Looking for Richard. The next episode airs tonight, February 8th, and features David Tennant discussing Hamlet. Even though I'm not a fan of Doctor Who, I'm still really looking forward to checking out this episode.

You've lost some weight, Rose.
I don't care how cliche or trite it sounds - Shakespeare will always be one of my first and greatest loves. I even create dream casts in my head and would kill to see a production of Othello with Michael Emerson as Iago or The Tempest with Michael Caine as Prospero.

Who am I kidding? I would pay to see a production of Michael Emerson reading the phone book.
Shakespeare's stories are timeless. I truly believe that. They focus on love, grief, revenge, envy, regret, and poop and sex jokes, all of which humanity can commonly understand no matter the time or place.


  1. My favorite Shakespeare story is Much Ado About Nothing and can't wait for the Joss Whedon movie. Then on the other side one of the few stories I've ever actually hate hated is Romeo and Juliet.

    1. Oooh... I didn't know When was doing Much Ado. Romeo and Juliet is not one of my favorites unless the production reflects the fact that it's not really a very good love story. Romeo is an idiot more in love with love than any single woman. Shakespeare in Love is a pretty great movie, if for no other reason than making a person consider what it must have been like to see R&J for the first time, without knowing anything about it beforehand. I also like the Baz Luhrmann movie quite a bit - more than I maybe should, which goes to show that Shakespeare really needs to be watched and not only read.

    2. *Whedon. My laptop doesn't always like to show all the letters I type.

  2. Have you read "Shakespeare in the Bush"? Very amusing.