June 2, 2010

Nekkid Shakespeare

I've watched 2 out of the four episodes in a BBC series called Shakespeare Retold (Taming of the Shrew and Macbeth). Each play is done in modern times and is stripped of the Shakespearean language. You'd think that would leave a hollow shell; instead, you experience the characters and plots laid bare. Which exposes how BIZARRE the plots can be, yet how even within strange set-ups, the responses and changes the characters navigate are profoundly true.

Of course I got the DVD from the library only because James McAvoy is in the retelling of The Scottish Play (I'll watch anything with him in it). They set Macbeth in a kitchen with McAvoy as The Scottish Chef, Duncan as the restaurant owner and Duncan's son as an underling learning the trade from McAvoy. The witches are three quirky men in a dump truck. The Chef's wife is the hostess and goads him into killing Duncan. Watching everyone descend from a busy, intense, yet happy kitchen into darkness is awful.

None of these substitute for reading or, better yet watching, an actual Shakespeare play, but they are great as a supplement before diving into the linguistic gymnasium of one of Shakespeare's plays.


Aimee said...

Sounds interesting. I'll have to check one/some out.

Anonymous said...

As Bernard Shaw correctly oberved, the only redeeming feature of Shakespeare's plays is the music
of the language. And that music made him the best ever.

So, now they leave out the language. Sad.

They keep the plots -- which are usually the sorriest parts of his plays -- at best improbable,
at worst, disgusting.

For a great example of what can be done with contemporary Shakespeare, see Romeo and Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. Marvelous.

Yet, at your say so, I'll check out the plot-driven

Rachel said...

I love Shakespeare. I'm curious to see how it would be without all the old English. Thanks for the recommendation.