April 23rd, 2014

Better than I remembered

I came to Shakespeare in my early teens. Gorged on it, read some plays over and over, did some in school, was lucky enough to see others performed. I did not read or see all of them, but a sort of haphazard selection: Romeo and Juliet, Comedy of Errors, Macbeth, The Tempest, Midsummer Nights Dream,... later I came to others, but those were the ones I began with.

But he is for a lifetime, of course. Every time you read him he shows you something new.

Lately I have been revisiting old friends-- easy plays that I thought I knew. We are so lucky to have Youtube. We can watch really good actors performing plays that they themselves  love, and letting us in on the fun.

Tonight I am watching the Midsummer Nights Dream, from 1999. It has Kevin Klein, Dominic West, Michelle Phieffer, and Roger Rees. Lots of others too- it is set in a rustic Edwardian Italy, with bloomers and bikes.

I have watched the first 20 minutes or so now, the plot and subplot have been set up, and it is so lovely and exciting that I had to stop and hop around the room. I had plain forgotten how funny it is. The men arguing about their parts in the play-- the boy who was to be Thisbe saying 'No look, I have a beard, see?'  and everyone generally being human, and obviously irritating.

There is a whole thing here about wanting what someone else has. (That was wasted on me when I was 15, and, of course, wanted what-- or who-- someone else had.) And it is echoed in the lovers, of course, all jumbled up. Michelle P is scrunching her pretty face up and saying 'Oh hell, oh spite! and stomping away in her bike bloomers. The fairies will sort them out, I get to sit back and watch.