Okay, I confess that I am a bit of a Shakespeare nut, and Will does appear as a character and the “Shakespeare as a ‘rock star’ idea is spoofed very effectively and entertainingly. It’s also true that I am very fond of musicals, generally, and this is not only a great example of just about everything a musical can (and should) be, so it ends up as something of an homage to the great tradition of musicals, as very as a wonderful satire on the whole “over the top” sense that great musicals always seem to have. Good solos and duets, big, splashy chorus numbers, exciting sets and costumes, just about everything which a musical should be. All in all, great entertainment!
That’s not to say that musicals can only be flashy entertainment of the cheapest sort. No, many musicals (in my opinion) deal with subjects which can only be called “serious.” You don’t have to be some sort of expert to recognize that. Part of what I think makes Something Rotten! great, however, is that it makes it clear that musicals can also be great entertainment without smashing you over the head with “messages” and can be enjoyed on several levels, including flashy, campy, over-the-top entertainment. There are probably several ideas of a somewhat serious nature hiding within it. One of which (and not the least) is the rather stupid notion that Shakespeare is some sort of idol and always has been.
Yes, Shakespeare was a great playwright and poet. Yes, he was recognized as such during his lifetime, although so were a number of others, some of whom were considered his equal, if not his superior. I’ve touched on this notion before, so I won’t belabor the point. I am VERY fond of many (not all) of Shakespeare’s plays and I find the Elizabethan-Jacobean period (especially the theatre) fascinating, but I also recognize that “Bardolatry” is largely an invention of the 18th and 19th Centuries and that it shouldn’t be a crime to suggest that at least some of his plays are less than great.
After all, not ALL of them were highly praised even during his lifetime. Actually, only about half of the plays in the First Folio were previously published in Quarto form. A Quarto edition, which was probably stolen or sold off by the company because it was no longer active in its repertory, can, I believe, be taken as evidence that a play was popular, as no one would have been stupid enough to publish and try to sell an unpopular play.
Shakespeare certainly didn’t publish his plays (in ANY form) as he didn’t own them. He had sold them to his producing company (and Copyright didn’t exist). That’s why we should be thankful for the First Folio, published after his death, and after contemporary fashion had moved on to a different sort of thing. That’s to say nothing of the fact that the vast majority of his plots were not original, they came from all sorts of sources, fictional and historical, and many were heavily modified by “The Bard” to turn them into popular drama. Anyway, enough about that. Go see the show. I think you’ll enjoy it!
I found a copy of Ivor Brown’s Shakespeare In His Time a couple of weeks ago. While the book dates from 1960, I still found it an interesting look at the social, political, religious, etc. circumstances of Shakespeare’s time. I don’t know that I learned a great deal which was new from this book, but I would recommend it to anyone who isn’t already familiar with the period as readable and not excessively long nor difficult to understand. I got my copy in a used bookstore, but there are used copies on Amazon, etc., so one doesn’t have to pay a great deal for it. And, of course, there are other books which deal with similar material related to this much-talked-about author.
I’m a bachelor for a couple of weeks as Bonnie and Maggi are on a trip to England. I decided not to go with them, in part because I’ve had my chance to see many of the things I was especially interested in seeing when I went with Maggi in 2009, partly because they had a lot of “shopping” and “museuming” which they were particularly interested in doing (and which didn’t excite me too much) and partly because I’m simply slowing down a bit.
I’m afraid that too many years of standing and working on concrete shop and classroom floors, etc. have been hard on my knees (my left one especially) and I simply don’t move as fast as I once did, climbing stairs is a bit harder than it used to be and the slow standing/walking of visiting a museum or shopping is a good deal harder than it used to be. I can still get there, but it’s harder (and slower) than it was, and I know better than to try to slow those two ladies down. There’s also the fact that my not going has made it a good deal easier to deal with the problems of mail, cat-sitting, general house-watching and the like than would have been possible had we all been gone. There ARE things I will be sorry not to get to again (Stonehenge, Coventry, Stratford-Upon-Avon, the Shakespeare’s Globe, among others), but I’m not sorry that I made the decision I did.
I’m looking forward to the pictures and stories they will have when they get home, but I’m keeping busy with the house(s), the mail, the cats, reading, etc. Who knows, I might even get around to watching some of the movies I have bought and never seen. There are more of those than I care to admit.
There is ONE thing I will be really sorry to miss during their trip. Maggi bought a copy of a Something Rotten! tee shirt to wear when they go to Stratford (see below). I think it may lead to a lot of interesting people watching.