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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: April ::
Shakespeare in Time Magazine (Europe)
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0304  Monday, 10 April 2006

From: 		Jack Heller <
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Date: 		Friday, 7 Apr 2006 14:42:43 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 17.0284 Shakespeare in Time Magazine (Europe)
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0284 Shakespeare in Time Magazine (Europe)

I think the point of my recent assertions has been lost in the 
responses.  So let me restate. No doubt good performances may be done of 
the Shakespeare plays I mentioned earlier-Henry 6, Pt. 1; Comedy of 
Errors; All's Well that Ends Well; Timon of Athens; and Cymbeline. In 
2004, the performance of Timon at Stratford (ON) was far better than 
that season's Macbeth. The same season's Cymbeline was acceptable.

But let's think about what is available to us. This year, in both Fort 
Wayne and in South Bend, IN are performances of Comedy of Errors. In 
both Chicago and Indianapolis are performances of Two Noble Kinsmen. 
Because of the performance, I've taught COE, and I think most of my 
students would treat as self-evident that COE is less an accomplishment 
(to read) than any number of other Shakespearean plays we've read this year.

But it's Shakespeare. So must his worse be necessarily better than the 
good work of his contemporaries?

I don't question one point that David Evett has made about COE. But, 
other than not having twins, on almost every point, Middleton's A Chaste 
Maid in Cheapside as an artistically more significant play-for its 
portrayal of a city; for its complexities of family and sexual 
relations; for the elaborate interplay of imagery related to spring, 
lent, and Easter; for its breadth of social representation and 
consideration. To me, by comparison, COE seems smaller.

Taste, of course, is part of these evaluations. A Chaste Maid in 
Cheapside is far more sardonic than most of Shakespeare's works-but 
that's not a negative to me. I confess to some impatience with the fact 
that I can get two Much Ados, two Two Noble Kinsmens, two Comed(ies) of 
Errors, and another Twelfth Night this year, and yet I never get one 
chance to see a good Middleton or Jonson play. And any number of plays 
by either dramatist can, indeed, stand comparison to those Shakespearean 
plays. I, for one, am most excited to see Duchess of Malfi is on the 
Stratford season this year (as was Edward II last season). More of that, 
I say.

Jack Heller

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