Monday, November 7, 2016

A Midsummer Night's Dream, by William Shakespeare

Call me what you will, but I simply don't enjoy Shakespeare.  I have been to seen some plays at Shakespeare in the Park, watched a few with an English class in college, tried to read some, and have seen some modern film adaptations.  The other day I pulled out my DVD of A Midsummer Night's Dream and read along in my copy of the play.  (Years ago I bought a boxed set of all of Shakespeare's plays and poems.  Why?  I don't remember. . . . I must have had a reason. . . . )

First of all, the movie (this was the 1999 version with Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci, et al.) sticks very close to Shakespeare's script, but not exactly.  Several long speeches are truncated, a few bits of dialogue are out of order, and I think the filmmaker actually added a few lines hear and there.  I wonder about the gall and hubris of editing the greatest playwright in history (supposedly).  For a dumb and silly story, spoken in archaic language the is difficult to follow, it's actually a decent movie.  It was almost enjoyable.

This reminds me of what my college English professor said: Shakespeare wrote plays.  Plays are meant to be performed and watched, not read from a book.  Amen to that.  Is A Midsummer Night's Dream great literature?  In my admittedly limited view, I don't think this is one of his better plays.  I'm probably in the minority, because it's quite popular.  If anyone has seen anything by Shakespeare, they probably remember Puck and the dude with the donkey head.

2016 Reading Challenge: A play by William Shakespeare

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