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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: April ::
Shakespeare in Time Magazine (Europe)
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0284  Wednesday, 5 April 2006

From: 		David Evett <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 4 Apr 2006 15:57:11 -0400
Subject: 17.0275 Shakespeare in Time Magazine (Europe)
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0275 Shakespeare in Time Magazine (Europe)

A word of defense for three, at least, of the plays on Jack Heller's 
list of sub-standard Shakespeares. *Err*, *AWW*, and *Cym* have all 
afforded me satisfaction in the theater and in the study, too.

*Err* offers fine opportunities for lively spectacle at beginning and 
end and much amusing confusion in the middle. The framing story of 
Aegeon puts the Plautine confusions of the twins in a thought-provoking 
framework that also introduces the concentration on the family, for good 
and for ill, which remains such a powerful and productive concern 
throughout the canon, which cannot be matched in any of his 
contemporaries, and which does much, I think, to account for the 
continuing appeal of the oeuvre over the centuries and around the globe. 
Together with the doubling of the twins and the introduction of Luciana 
it illustrates an attention to and control over dramatic structure that 
already seems to me to represent a substantial advance beyond the linear 
parataxis of Marlowe, Peele, Greene, et al. And in the two women I think 
we can see the beginnings of Shakespeare's mature treatment of human 
character.

I, too, thought *Cym* ungainly until I saw two good productions of it, 
Robin Phillips' at the Stratford Festival, and Adrian Noble's for the 
RSC, which I saw at the Kennedy Center in Washington. It benefits from 
judicious cutting, especially in that long final scene, but performers 
and designers who can respond to its slightly loopy romanticism can find 
a lot to work with. Nothing else in Jacobean non-Shakespearean 
tragicomedy is so much sheer imaginative fun.

I'm in the middle of being dramaturg to a first-class professional 
production of *AWW* and daily hearing a director and actors with 
extensive experience enthuse over the elegance of the structure, the 
vitality of the language, and the richness of the characters. We've been 
particularly struck by the resonance between the courtship of Helena and 
Bertram and that between Lafew and Parolles. It has suffered more from 
what I might call historical vicissitude than many other plays. The 
combination of socially aggressive heroine and bed-trick put the play 
off-limits for Victorians. The uncertainties about the text (though the 
two major cruces can be solved theatrically in acceptably tidy ways) put 
off modernist editors and the other scholars and producers who followed 
them. Helena's readiness to sacrifice herself for Bertram, and the 
patriarchal authority of the King, offend post-moderns. We are finding 
effective ways to work through and around these problems, however, and 
are persuaded that it will delight and move our audiences. Those of you 
in reach of Boston should see our website:

http://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/

David Evett

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