Monday, 29 October 2012

Quote #028

"How well he's read, to reason against reading!"  
 King of Navarre - 'Love's Labour's Lost' Act I, Scene 1


28 - Love's Labour's Lost

I really hate only hearing half a story!

Like my fellow specks wearer Woody Allen I'm 'anal'! I have to watch / read something from the very beginning and, with only some rare exceptions, will see it through to the bitter end however bad it turns out. Hence I have seen no end of cheesy late night movies which back in the day would have been labelled 'Straight to Video'.

So if you're the same as me and the Woodster then avoid this play at all costs! This definitely only feels like half a play. And a bad half at that! Whether there ever was a missing sequel called 'Love's Labour's Won' we will now never know. And it might be wrong to say it but it might have been better if '...Lost' were lost as well instead of going 'Straight to Folio'!

The one scene I did like was with the four men 'stacking up' as each hides from the next man to arrive and read bad poetry. Then one by one they pop back out again with an iambic "Ah ha!!" I could imagine some good physical comedy from that one! But unfortunately that would be in the direction more than the writing. Billy-Boy, in this case you should have heeded your own words!
"A jest's prosperity lies in the ear
Of him that hears it, never in the tongue
Of him that makes it." 
And Finally - The 'Labours' set by the women for the men to prove their love are a bit random. Three have to simply wait a year (although one also has to grow a beard) but the last has to spend that year helping the dying by making them laugh! Now that's hard! I mean how many times can you tell the "...I could boil you an egg" gag?... 


Friday, 26 October 2012

Quote #027

"Peace, peace!
Dost thou not see my baby at my breast,
That sucks the nurse asleep?"
Cleopatra - 'Antony and Cleopatra' Act V, Scene 2


27 - Antony and Cleopatra

Thought I'd be bored by this one espaially comparing it to the Morecombe and Wise sketch or 'Carry on Cleo'. But surprisingly the whole play as well as being a tale of love and power also has a sitcom feel to it. What with eunuch gags and comedy messengers the most serious person in the whole play seems to be the clown in the final act!

During a lull in the fighting over the Empire we get an 'Only Fools and Horses' style Jolly-Boy's booze cruise on Pompey's private boat in Act II. The most powerful men in the civilised world getting drunk and talking rubbish about crocodiles and quicksand! I envisaged Antony holding back the hair of Lepidus, who sits on the floor with his head over a bucket, while Caesar struts around with a traffic-cone on his head!

Cleopatra's death may well be dignified and noble but not so poor Antony's. What a farce! First he asks his mate Eros to kill him, but Eros kills himself instead. Then Tony throws himself on his sword but botches the job. Then finally he gets a bunch of guardsmen to carry him to Cleopatra but rather than use the stairs they lift up and over a balcony! This is less Shakespeare more 'Some Mothers Do 'Ave Em' ("Ooh Cleo! The Sphinx has done a woopsie in me helmet!")

And Finally - Just to round off the Cockney-esque capers we have Cleopatra's call of "Let's to billiards" (Who'd of thought that the Queen of the Nile would be snooker-loopy!)...


Monday, 22 October 2012

Quote #026

"Despair and die!"
The Ghosts - 'Richard III', Act V, Scene 3 


26 - Richard III

And so with a lump in my throat (and another on my back) we bid a sad farewell to the mighty War of the Roses.

I did get to play the Hunchback of Withered-Arm once at drama-school but only the first few scenes. A fellow Thespian-friend was Lady Anne and took great delight it the fact that she got to spit in my face nightly! If this wasn't bad enough my director, in reaction to this spittle-fest, had me wipe it away with a finger and then lick it! Truly evil and equally unwholesome - but then that was this particular director all over! (Thank you! Thank you! I'm here all week!)

Once more this play produces a plethora of juicy quotes - mainly from the great-Gloucester. A particular favourite again comes from his scene with Lady Anna. Standing by the coffin of the king he killed Richard overwhelms and wins Lady Anne thanks to some bare-faced cheek and some bare-chested bravado! He then gloats of his new found power to bend the will of others!
"Was ever woman in this humour woo'd?
Was ever woman in this humour won?
I'll have her; — but I will not keep her long."
Richard wants to be a villain and he succeeds. He's certainly close to the top when it comes to the Bard's Bully-boys and Bad'uns. I may have to look at a top-ten Heroes and Villains when reading dust has finally settled.

And Finally - So all Mad Margaret's prophecies came true. But what gave her such insight? I think it's the Head of Suffolk (see Henry VI Part 2) that she kept all this time. She covets his zombie-bonce because, like Orpheus before him, it carried on speaking after death, telling her all the juicy future gossip. (Plus it made a great novelty nut-cracker!)...


Blackadder - "Don't Mention Macbeth!"

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Quote #025

"I think Crab, my dog, be the sourest-natured dog that lives. My mother weeping, my father wailing, my sister crying, our maid howling, our cat wringing her hands, and all our house in a great perplexity, yet did not this cruel-hearted cur shed one tear."

Launce - 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona', Act II, Scene 3


25 - The Two Gentleman of Verona

As this was thought to be Billy-Boy's first ever play, and as we know he did achieve greatness later, I can just allow for some of the rough edges to this first outing. There are some nice set pieces here, my favourites being Julia and Lucetta's first scene with the love letter and Launce's ridiculous monologues. There are also elements and themes which would recur in his later works such as love, friendship, obsession, not to mention cross-dressing and even a balcony scene!

But hold everything! Where the play does fall down for me is in the main plot (and here there be spoilers I'm afraid). Proteus forgets Julia because Valentine loves Sylvia and boasts that there can be no woman better. Therefore Proteus has his best friend banished so he can 'love' Sylvia instead. However, as she continually rejects him he eventually says he have her "like a solider" and is all set to rape her. Valentine stops him but Proteus simply says "I'm really sorry" to which Valentine replies "Okay mate, I forgive you, she's all yours". It's only a bit of opportune fainting and ring fumbling from the disguised Julia that brings things back around. But then even she forgives Proteus! Now I might be showing my New-Age-Man colours here but isn't this just a tad misogynistic? 

I also get the feeling that Shaky was cutting corners a bit. If instead of a small apology Protous had given a heartfelt speech of explanation and contrition (and I'm talking a soliloquy of the highest eloquence here) then I might have been more forgiving. But as it is this only gets a 'C' for effort and a 'Try better next time'. 

And finally - Launce might be an idiot but at least he's a loveable idiot. But Speed! I'd have punched him in the face before he even finished his first speech! The lad is just so damned annoying! (Sorry! That was a bit harsh. Forgive me?...)

Peter Sellers: A Hard Day's Night

Monday, 8 October 2012

Quote #024

"Thy mother's of my generation. What's she, if I be a dog?"

Apemantus - 'Timon of Athens', Act I, Scene 1

24 - Timon of Athens

I've been insanely busy in my own life - this happened every year around this time and is work related so not much I can do to change it. In the meantime I've been trying to keep up the my Bard-browsing but not so the Bard-blogging so apologies as the next couple of instalments will be minimal in the extreme!

With 'Timon' it is the first time reading this particular bit of Bard and I'm not sure if it's a morality play or simply a premonition of the dangers of QVC. There are some interesting scenes but beyond the simple lesson of 'neither a borrower or a lender be' (even when butt naked in wasteland while sitting on a goldmine) the story has very little to offer.

I did notice what seems to be a lot of dog references. Was Billy-Boy after a Bow-Wow? My favourite is made early on by Apemantus, who gets all the good lines in the play, when he is called 'a dog' he replies:
"Thy Mother's of my generation. What's she, if I be a dog?"
And finally - Think I prefer the sequel where Timon meets the fat guy called Pumba...