Monday, March 25, 2013

The play's the thing...for some

This weekend Sam was running lines with his niece because her 5th grade class is performing Hamlet. Or at least some version of the classic tragedy that fits in a 30-minute time period and involves all the roles being septupal cast and all the Hamlets/Ophelias/ghosts/etc speaking in unison like some sort of Greek choragos. Still, it's a far cry from the plays I remember doing in elementary school which I'm pretty sure were never performed outside of elementary schools. The two that come to mind are the classics "Help! I Need a Vacation" whose plot can be fairly accurately deduced from the title and "Oh My Deer!" (not to be confused with the P.G. Wodehouse two-act Oh My Dear! which appeared on Broadway in the early 20th century) about a town being overrun by deer.

In trying to find any evidence of these plays to validate my elementary school memories, I discovered this awesome video of the title song from "Oh My Deer!" being performed. I have a feeling that is exactly what my 5th grade class looked like. I also like that "City Engineer" is one of the characters and that the staging requires the chorus to stand behind potted plants. But I digress. My elementary school had a rousing selection of plays, but Shakespeare they were not.

At any rate, the unexpected presentation of the first scene of Hamlet (my fianace has an excellent ghost voice) coupled with the announcement of the Shakespeare in the Park dates and plays for this summer (they're doing Love's Labour's Lost and Comedy of Errors with the brother from Modern Family in it for those in the city in June) had me thinking about the Bard.
I know absolutely nothing about this play, but I will probably go see it. 
I had an idea for a post based on something I saw on a blog around James Joyce's birthday. Someone had taken all the 1-star reviews of Joyce's most famous works off of Amazon to see what his greatest critics thought. Some of those posted were very funny, so I thought perhaps Shakespeare could enjoy the same treatment. As a note, the excerpts below are, in some cases, taken from larger reviews and edited for the sake of brevity and comedic effect.


The ambivalent high school student:
I really didn't enjoy reading this book and I wish that our English teacher wouldn't force my class to read this play. Nevertheless I finished it. I think that the story is very complex and complicated and consist of a huge amount of details. I think that Shakespeare did a pretty good job, though.

The reviewer who failed to see the humor:
This has to be one of the worst plays ever written, Shakespeare or no Shakespeare. While the Bard was the master of English drama, he really slipped up here. The plot makes no sense, the characters motivations are contrived, and the jokes fall flat. 

The pro-censorship child:
I would not recommend this book to anybody under 13. I found it to be extremely boring and porbably won't read it again. One thing about this book is the fact that it has alot of gore that is not fit for younger kids. It doesn't really bug me but it might bug some younger children(If they read it)

The intentionally (I assume) ironic:
Well, let me tell, you: it's boring and derivative. It's about this Prince who doesn't get his father's throne, and feels all depressed about it for a while, and fights back against his uncle (who took the throne and married the prince's mother), to show everyone that it was actually the uncle who killed his father the king.

Don't waste your time with this; watch "The Lion King", and you'll get it.


The shortcut advocate: 
The premise of the story is entertaining so I would suggest reading a summary of the play.

The generally unimpressed:
Macbeth I found to be tacky with very few memorable quotes.

The one who cuts to the quick:
Maybe I haven't understood the whole meaning of the play; to me it seemed quite boring and too predictable. It's a story about power and abusing power, about traitors and morality, decorated with many complicated sentences and words.


I agree with this one:
The most annoying thing about this play is that except for Iago, all of the characters are major simpletons.

The musings of an older English speaker:
It is English and I speak English. I just don't happen to speak Old English. Which is really ironic because I am old and speaking English. If you read slowly and put your thinking cap on, you will get the gist of what the story is about. Or! You can just purchase Cliff notes, etc. This story is exciting and full of action...........I Think?

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