Which is your favourite Shakespeare play?
I think mine is A Midsummer Night’s dream, directly influenced by having seen it at The Bridge Theatre last year starring the wonderful Gwendoline Christie (ie. Brienne of Tarth) as Titania and really the most extraordinary cast of actors. Before that, it was probably tied with The Taming Of The Shrew (and no, not solely because of 10 Things I Hate About You, although there’s 0 things I hate about that movie).
The production at The Bridge was modern adaption like nothing I’ve seen before: including the moon becoming a balloon-throwing party with the interactive, stage-level audience:
Remember when we weren’t all terrified of touching the same thing? I reckon Shakespeare would’ve loved this adaptation because it perfectly encapsulates what he was after with his comedies – fun. His comedies, though of course having other intentions too, were written for total entertainment and silliness. A key plot point is someone turning into a donkey (and then another character falling in love with said ass), for crying out loud.
It’s so easy to forget that Shakespeare’s comedies are actually bloody funny when they’re done properly. I’m not saying that a bunch of 14 year olds taking turns reading lines and mispronouncing words in an English class doesn’t achieve the same comedic timing but… actually that’s exactly what I’m saying.
Flow is critical to understanding and more importantly amusement, and I think it’s why studying Shakespeare can leave young students wondering, “how can anything so boring be classified as a comedy?” So do yourselves a favour and if you can’t quite get your head around reading Shakespeare plays, watch them – especially when they’re being made by such talented creatives. Shakespeare’s writing and longevity is unquestionably remarkable, but don’t forget that plays are often written to be watched.