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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: March ::
Re: Arkangel Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0553  Thursday, 20 March 2003

[1]     From:   Claude Caspar <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 19 Mar 2003 11:10:06 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0544 Arkangel Shakespeare

[2]     From:   Richard Sherrington <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 19 Mar 2003 12:41:55 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0544 Arkangel Shakespeare

[3]     From:   Matt Henerson <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 19 Mar 2003 14:24:51 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0544 Arkangel Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Claude Caspar <
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Date:           Wednesday, 19 Mar 2003 11:10:06 -0500
Subject: 14.0544 Arkangel Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0544 Arkangel Shakespeare

Is the entire series well done?

It is unabridged and & done as good as it can be in that genre.  To hear
a scene often cut, or a play out of fashion, or while driving the car,
it is great- and, I am NOT being condescending, since I have many.  It
is not aiming for unique interpretations and that is understandable.
Often the actors are well-known Shakespeareans.  The more versions one
experiences always for the better.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Sherrington <
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Date:           Wednesday, 19 Mar 2003 12:41:55 -0400
Subject: 14.0544 Arkangel Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0544 Arkangel Shakespeare

I think they're superb.  I've listened to most of them. Some of the best
are ones not frequently performed such as Measure for Measure, Love's
Labours Lost, All's Well that Ends Well and Troilus and Cressida.  The
history plays are also very well done as are Midsummer Night's Dream and
Twelfth Night.  I didn't much care for Pericles and Timon, but that may
have been the plays. But check the price on Amazon.com.  The US site is
frequently cheaper than the Canadian site, even allowing for the
conversion. I'm Canadian and use the US site more frequently.  Sometimes
though it's the other way around.  There doesn't appear to be any
particular reason for the price discrepancies.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Matt Henerson <
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Date:           Wednesday, 19 Mar 2003 14:24:51 EST
Subject: 14.0544 Arkangel Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0544 Arkangel Shakespeare

I would hold off on buying the set until you've visited a library (I've
found this series in libraries all over California, and LA's central
branch has them all) and listened to a few of them individually.  I've
heard a number of them, and found the series, as a whole,
disappointing.  I have a sense that many of the performers come from the
RSC companies of the past ten years, with stars (Alan Howard, Bob Peck,
Eileen Atkins, Brian Cox, Simon Russell Beale) in most of the leads.  A
number of these actors seem to be uncomfortable with the audio medium.
The "Coriolanus" and the "King John", for example, are almost entirely
shouted.  Emotional choices are extremely broad and pointed: Michael
Maloney, an actor whose work I've admired in the past, does a good deal
of maniacal cackling as the Bastard in "John."  I assume this is to
indicate Philip's ironic amusement at the political maneuvering of the
Kings and Cardinals by whom he's surrounded, but while I appreciate the
intelligence behind the choice, I don't find the finished performance a
very convincing imitation of humanity.

There is also this question of the efficacy star casting.  On "Love's
Labors", Alex Jennings is Berowne and Alan Howard is Armado.  Both
actors are a good deal easier with the language than many of their
co-stars, but this range of ability and ease frequently pulled me as a
listener away from the play.  Further, Howard chose to do Armado with a
very broad dialect.  Well and good, the man is a something of a
caricature and is often played that way.  But first of all, the actor
couldn't or didn't choose to sustain the dialect through the
performance, and second of all, it was, like Maloney's, too broad for
the medium, and I frequently lost the sense of what he was saying
completely, a criticism I have never thought to make of this actor's
work before.  This recording in particular pales in comparison to
Caedemon's "Love's Labors" which features Jeremy Brett's savage and
sarcastic Berowne, Ian Holm's understated and melancholy Armado, and, as
a bonus, Derek Jacobi as Navarre and Geraldine McEwan as the Princess.

There are several productions in this series that I haven't heard, and
to which I am looking forward: Bob Peck is Prospero, Trevor Peacock is
Lear, Simon Russell Beale is Hamlet and Angelo, and David Troughton
plays a number of roles.  But I don't know that I need to own these
recordings to the tune of any $400.00.  My advice: take out or buy three
recordings that interest you.  Listen, and if you're overwhelmed, buy
the set.  There's always ebay for the duplicates.

Matt Henerson

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