Much Ado About Nothing ★★★★☆

muchadoaboutnothing (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Much Ado About Nothing
Series: ———-
Author: William Shakespeare
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Play, Comedy
Pages: 84
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Benedick, a womanizing batchelor who regularly speaks out against marriage, has come home from the wars with his friend Claudio. Claudio sees Hero, the daughter of a Don and immediately falls in love and she with him. Benedick claims he’ll never get married and spars verbally with Hero’s cousin Beatrice, who has as sharp a tongue as him. They both claim hatred of the other.

Claudio and Hero conspire to get Benedick and Beatrice together. Using gossip and reverse psychology, it works. However, Claudio’s illegitimate brother decides to cause problems. He makes it appear that Hero is a whore and discredits her before her father and Claudio. She feigns death while her name is cleared.

Then Hero & Claudio and Benedick & Beatrice get married and the rascally brother gets caught by the law.

 

My Thoughts:

I went into this with a heavy heart. I was thinking to myself “Oh, not another Shakespeare, maybe I can skip a cycle”. I am glad I didn’t though. I had a blast reading this.

Beatrice was the kind of loud mouth woman that most men just want to put a rag in her mouth because she won’t shut up. It was hilarious. It also helped that she was one of the witty characters. Now, I did have some issues parsing what she was trying to say, what with her english being 400’ish years old, but for the most part I was able to get the gist of what she was trying to get across.

The only reason I gave this just a 4star instead of higher was because of how quickly both Beatrice and Benedick change their minds about the other. Yes, it is a very short play and for time constraints I understand, but it was almost literally a 180 degree reversal in the space of a minute.

Other than that, this was a true comedy. I’m thinking about tracking down a video version and seeing how it compares. Does anyone have any suggestions?

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream ★★★★☆

amidsummernightsdream (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Series: ———-
Author: William Shakespeare
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Play, Comedy
Pages: 111
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Lysander and Hermia are in love. Hermia’s father however, wants her to marry Demetrius. Demetrius claims he’s in love with Hermia but had previously woo’d and declared his love to Helena. Helena is in love with Demetrius. Lysander and Hermia plan to run away from Athens and get married. Helena tells Demetrius (I’m not sure why) and all 4 meet in the woods at night.

During this time, the King and Queen of the fairies are having a tiff because of a little serving boy. Oberon, the king, gives his servant Puck some magic herbs to cause trouble for Titania, the Queen. Puck also uses this magic herb on Lysander and Demetrius and lots of problems ensure between the 4 humans.

At the same time, a group of workmen are practicing a play in the same woods for the Duke of Athen’s upcoming nuptials. Puck turns one of them into a creature with a donkey’s head and everyone runs away. Titania ends up falling in love with Bottom due to the magic herbs. Oberon tells Puck to fix everything, which he does and it is all sweetness and light between everyone.

The play is performed at the wedding and the Duke and Company have as much making fun of the play as they watching it. The players are rewarded and everyone is happy.

 

My Thoughts:

I read this back in highschool in the 90’s and have watched the movie, starring Michelle Pfeiffer, at least twice since 2000 so I’m relatively familiar with the story.

Finally, a “comedy” that I could laugh at. There is a reason this is one of Shakespeare’s more produced plays. There is something for everyone and for almost every kind of humor. Whether word plays or physical comedy or situational comedy, this has it all.

I don’t have much to say. I enjoyed this, am glad I really enjoyed something by Shakespeare and it has given me a shot in the arm to keep on reading. You’re never going to hear me quoting Shakespeare like Jeeves though.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Merchant of Venice ★★★☆½

merchantofvenice (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Merchant of Venice
Series: ———-
Author: William Shakespeare
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Play, Comedy
Pages: 140
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A merchant of Venice, Merchantio has all his funds tied up in ships out at sea. His friend, Romancio, needs to borrow money to woo a rich woman from another town. Merchantio allows Romancio to stretch his credit to the limit with a moneylender named Shylock. Shylock hates Merchantio and makes part of the credit deal that if Merchantio defaults Shylock gets to cut off a pound of flesh.

Shylock’s daughter runs off with a friend of Merchantio’s and takes a small fortune with her. Shylock doesn’t know which he misses more.

Things go well for Romancio. The woman’s father had setup a riddle to win her hand. If a suitor guessed wrong, he couldn’t tell anyone what he had guessed AND he had to remain single for the rest of his life. Romancio guesses right and marries the woman. His friend, Friendo, then marries the maid servant.

Things go bad for Merchantio and all his ships are sunk, pirated or go missing. Shylock claims the Law and says he’ll sue Venice and ruin her international reputation of Law Abidingness if the Duke of Venice won’t fulfill the law.

Romancio and Friendio run back to Venice with treble the amount owed so buy back Merchantio’s life. Unknown to them, their wives follow, dressed up as young men and claiming to be the friends of a very important Judge. The Duke of Venice brings the case before them. Shylock turns down the treble payment and wants his pound of flesh.

Romancio’s wife decides in his favor and Shylock rejoices. Then she drops the bombshell that he can only take a pound of flesh, no blood, nothing. If he does so and Merchantio dies, then Shylock will die and all his estates go to the City of Venice. The Duke rules that if Shylock won’t take his pound of flesh, the only way to avoid the punishment is to convert to Christianity and give half his estates away and lots of it to his estranged daughter. Everyone but Shylock is happy.

Then the wives decide to be clever and cause problems for their husbands. They beg, as the young men, to have some rings from Romancio and Friendio, who cave like $3 bills. Then the wives meet their husbands at home and demand to see the rings. Upon not seeing them, the wives claim they will sleep with whoever has the rings and follow that up immediately that it has already happened. Romancio and Friendio moan about being cuckolds and then the wives reveal the truth, everyone laughs and goes into a feast.

 

My Thoughts:

I was really enjoying this up until the end. I don’t think I’m going to ever find amusing made up drama between husbands and wives. Also, the names completely eluded me 5minutes after I finished the book, hence my little nicknames there.

There were boatloads of quotes that lots of people today know. When people here them, they know they’re from Shakespeare even if they have no idea which play. It made me wonder why certain quotes have attained that status and not others. Not all of them are epic, or particularly wise or stand out above other bits, as far as I can see. Just rather random.

I did laugh when Shylock’s daughter ran off and became a “Christian”. Shylock is bemoaning his loss of ducats and jewels and is complaining to a non-Jew about it. The non-jew starts complaining about how the price of pork is now going to rise because there is another pork eater (because obviously it follows that to show one is a Christian one must eat pork). It was so silly and ridiculous that I was just grinning through the whole back and forth.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

The Merry Wives of Windsor ★★★☆½

merrywivesofwindsor (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Merry Wives of Windsor
Series: ———-
Author: William Shakespeare
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Play, Comedy
Pages: 80
Format: Digital Edition

Synopsis:

Falstaff, a fat, flagrant lecher, pursues two married women of Windsor at the same time. The two wives decide to turn the tables on him and put him through all sorts of trials at the hands of their unsuspecting husbands. One time Falstaff is taken out of the house in a basket of laundry and thrown into the river. Another time he has to dress up like an ill-favored Aunt and is beaten by one of the husbands who hates the Aunt.Finally, he is made to dress up in deer antlers and beset upon by a group of children and pinched and beaten at midnight.

There is a smaller sub-plot of a young man and woman who want to get married and that is carried out under the nose of the father and mother, who each want the girl to marry the suitor of their choice.

Everyone but Falstaff ends up happy.

 

My Thoughts:

I wonder, why would a fat old man think he could woo happily married women? If I’d been one of the husbands, I’d have stuck a sword through Falstaff first chance I got.

I enjoyed this a good bit as I was able to make the play happen in my head. I had to consciously do it, but picturing it in my mind made it so much more palatable than just words on the page. Falstaff getting dumped in the river and beaten had me laughing out loud, like it was supposed to.

I have to admit that the whole “jealous husband testing his wife” thing that Shakespeare seems to thrive on (in regards to almost any married couple) doesn’t work for me. I don’t know if its a cultural thing or a personal thing or what, but if I ever suspected something untoward regarding Mrs B, I’d ask her. If there was another man then a 1st degree homicide would occur, but I wouldn’t be setting up scenarios to try to trap her or to try to make her act unfaithfully. That isn’t how real love works. Good old murder now, that’s how Twue Wuv weally works. * Fezzik cheers *

I am thankful this was as entertaining as it was. I was afraid I was going to have to put some more space in my reading rotation so I could continue on, but this helps keep me interested. Reading a Complete Shakespeare is kind of like a marathon. Don’t do it lightly and for phrack’s sake, don’t ever, ever, EVER sprint.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Measure for Measure ★★★☆☆

measureformeasure (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Measure for Measure
Series: ———-
Author: William Shakespeare
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Play, Comedy
Pages: 96
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Duke Somebody leaves his city-state in the hands of a man the Duke trusts, or so he says. His real plan is for the stand-in, Angelo, to enforce the moral laws of the land that the Duke has been ignoring. Thus the Duke will get a more moral populace without having the outrage directed against him.

Unfortunately for him, Angelo turns into a tyrant and condemns a man to death for fornication. When the doomed man’s sister pleads for mercy, Angelo says he’ll forego the death sentence if she’ll have sex with him. The Duke, disguised as a monk, over hears everything that is going on and sets things up so that a woman Angelo spurned years ago takes the sister place. Angelo is fooled but reneges on his word. The Duke reveals himself to the jailor and comes up with a plan to save the doomed man.

The Duke sets everything in motion, then “returns” publicly. The sister and spurned woman cry for justice, Angelo says everything is all lies and then the doomed man comes forth, not dead after all. Angelo is forced to marry the spurned woman, so she has all the legal rights of a wife. The Duke then sentences Angelo to die just like Angelo sentenced the doomed brother to die.

The sister marries the Duke and everything turns out alright for everyone who is good.

 

My Thoughts:

There was a lot of wordplay humor here that amused me. Almost no physical comedy so that also helped. The story of a hypocrite getting his just desserts is always a good one.

That being said, I think the Duke is an ass. He supposedly knows Angelo from all the way back “when” and even knows he spurned the poor girl when her dowry fell through and yet he seems so surprised at how Angelo acts once he’s in control.

The way Angelo is presented at first came across as a hard nosed, take no nonsense kind of guy. I was rooting for him in fact. Time somebody cleaned up the filth. But of course, nobody can actually be good if they want to enforce the laws, oh no! They’re heartless brutes who secretly break the law themselves at every turn. Now, doesn’t THAT narrative sound terribly familiar? Wouldn’t surprise me if Democrats read Shakespeare as a How To instead of as a warning.

The whole thing with the Duke and the sister getting married just made me laugh. She is going to be a nun but puts her final vows on hold so she can save her brother. A couple of days later the Duke pretty much says ‘Woman, marry me!” and she’s all “You got it, you sexy beast”. Somehow I wonder if she would have turned into a “Naughty” nun, hahahahaa.

Overall, this was MUCH more enjoyable than the previous plays. I needed that, as reading unlikeable plays time after time was getting a bit wearisome.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Love’s Labour’s Lost ★★☆☆☆

loveslabourslost (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Love’s Labour’s Lost
Series: ———-
Author: William Shakespeare
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Play, Comedy
Pages: 98
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

King Ferdinand, 3 of his lords and a Spaniard, all take a vow to study, fast and avoid women for 3 years. Of course, King Ferdinand forgets that he’s supposed to be welcoming a French Princess into his court. She and her ladies arrive, are forced to decamp outside of the city and all the men fall instantly in love with the ladies.

They write love letters, lie to each other, all catch each other out, unsuccessfully woo the ladies as Russians (I kid you not) and then, just when they are about to successfully win the ladies as themselves, the Princess’s father dies and the ladies all retire for a year.

Throw in some mouthy servants and smart ass pages and bob’s your uncle.

 

My Thoughts:

A lot of the humor of this play was based on the reparte between the men amongst themselves, the ladies amongst themselves and then amongst them all as a group. They cut, they swipe, they’re snide and pompous. It didn’t work for me at all.

The servants should have been whipped to death for their insolence or at least muzzled. The men were idiots for taking such an oath in the first place and then to watch them each perjure themselves was just disgraceful. The women were cold and playing it all as a game when they should have been much more serious.

All in all, if a dragon had walked on stage and eaten every character, I would have stood up, cheered my head off and then run off as fast as I could before the dragon ate me. I am beginning to suspect that I don’t like Shakespeare’s style or sense of humor.

★★☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

The Comedy of Errors ★★☆☆½

comedyoferrors (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Comedy of Errors
Series: ———-
Author: William Shakespeare
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Play, Comedy
Pages: 272
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

20+ years ago, a family with twin sons and a servant with twin sons, were separated at sea. Now they all come together in the city of Ephesus and mistaken identity comedy errors ensue. With a lot of beatings for the servant twins, who both can’t seem to keep their mouths shut.

The error is realized and everyone ends up happy. The End.

 

My Thoughts:

This completely did not work for me as a read. The humor was not funny on the page nor did the situational humor do a thing for me. I kept wanting to shout “Somebody USE YOUR BRAIN!”

I can see this being very funny if acted out, much like a 3 Stooges scenario. But those wouldn’t be funny either on paper. The actors are what make the situations funny, not just the situations themselves.

I also don’t find humor about marriage funny. Me and Willy have very different outlooks, that is for sure. That doesn’t stop me from being glad to read this or to appreciate it. I just don’t like it * grin *

★★☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)