Monday, August 19, 2013

Week 8 - Love's Labour's Lost

Oh, man, guys. I'm excited to write about this one because I get to tell you about the first time I saw the Kenneth Branagh film adaptation. I hadn't read it then, so when I sat down to watch it I expected to have to pay close attention to the language to ensure I grasped the nuances of the action. I figured good old traditional Branagh would give a pretty standard rendering. Watch this:


Yeah, when I sat down to watch this, I had no idea that the whole thing was half Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost and half Cole Porter musical numbers. Why is it like that? Who knows. It kind of works. It is also kind of ridiculous.

The premise of the play is that four men decide to take up a three year academic study during which time they will not have any social intercourse with marriage. Unfortunately, as soon as they're done making their pledges, a Princess shows up with her entourage to settle some business with the King (titles are capitalized because that's how the characters are named in the text). Naturally, each of the four men falls in love with one of the four women. Somehow no one doubles up and no one gets left unloved, which is not how life has taught me that works at all.

The play is clever and funny, particularly in its wordplay and back-and-forth dialog. The characters are not especially fleshed out, which I would have enjoyed, and the plot is extremely simple (for once), but it's a fun read. I particularly enjoy that the women are noticeably savvier and wittier than their male counterparts. If you'd like to see a full (non-Cole Porter) version, here's a production from the Globe. I haven't watched it yet, but I'm going to so just shut up and stop judging me.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Week X - The Comedy of Errors

Okay, I may have gotten a little sidetracked for a few... days there. Although there are, of course, a variety of factors, I'm going to pin my truancy on the fact that I hate dramatic irony, and The Comedy of Errors is a farce. I don't know why I hate it; farce just gives me this deep down sense of anxiety. Probably because I'm some sort of spiritual savant and sense that farce some sort of cruel allegory for our actual lives. When I overcome that anxiety, I'm just bored. The whole "she thinks he's this guy when he's actually this other guy" doesn't do anything for me. It doesn't tell me anything about the human condition (unless my anxiety is really on to something); it just reminds me about the importance of communication, which, as a writer, I'm already quite keen on.

So I'm not going to do a plot summary for The Comedy of Errors, or analyze any themes or anything. I'm just going to copy out this pearl of a speech (which, yes, makes the rest of the play an oyster. I'm not sure what that means but I'm pretty sure it's an insult, Billy).

Teach me, dear creature, how to think and speak;
Lay open to my earthy-gross conceit,
Smother'd in errors, feeble, shallow, weak,
The folded meaning of your words' deceit.
Against my soul's pure truth why labour you
To make it wander in an unknown field?
Are you a god? would you create me new?
Transform me then, and to your power I'll yield.
But if that I am I, then well I know
Your weeping sister is no wife of mine,
Nor to her bed no homage do I owe
Far more, far more to you do I decline.
O, train me not, sweet mermaid, with thy note,
To drown me in thy sister's flood of tears:
Sing, siren, for thyself and I will dote:
Spread o'er the silver waves thy golden hairs,
And as a bed I'll take them and there lie,
And in that glorious supposition think
He gains by death that hath such means to die:
Let Love, being light, be drowned if she sink!

              --3.2.31

I promise I actually like Shakespeare and will start coming over all fangirl-y in a couple of weeks here.