Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Tempest - Summary

The Tempest

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made:
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell: ding-dong.
Hark! now I hear them,—ding-dong, bell.

Hamlet or The Tempest. The Tempest or Hamlet. That's a tough one. I'll go with The Tempest - by a nose.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Tempest - Act V

The Tempest
Act V

Now my charms are all o’erthrown,
And what strength I have ’s mine own;

Everyone gathers round as things start to wind down, kind of like the windup to an Agatha Christie novel, with Prospero serving as Poirot and letting everyone in on the mystery. Rather than exacting some kind of terrible revenge on them Prospero takes the high road and gets all benevolent and forgiving. He even makes good on his promise to free Ariel. All live happily ever after.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Tempest - Act IV

The Tempest
Act IV

These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:

Monster, I do smell all horse-piss; at which my nose is in great indignation.

Prospero apparently approves of the union of Miranda and Ferdinand and before you know if a bunch of gods and nymphs (spirits, actually) turn up to celebrate. This is going along quite nicely until Prospero remembers that Caliban and some of the others are conspiring against him. They seek out Prospero so they can do their dirty deeds, unaware that he is watching them. His response is to set the dogs on them (spirit dogs, actually).

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Tempest - Act III

The Tempest

Trinculo, if you trouble him any more in his tale, by this hand, I will supplant some of your teeth.

Enter Ferdinand, bearing a log.

Seems that Miranda and the log-bearing Ferdinand, who’s been pressed into something like slavery by Prospero, have become an item. She goes so far as to offer to take over his log-stacking duties (Log Lady?) but the gallant Ferdinand won't hear of it. They get all googly-eyed over each other for a while and then decide that they oughta to get hitched.

Caliban and Stephano conspire to rebel against Prospero. Caliban offers a few specifics on how best fold, spindle or mutilate the old bird, but cautions that he should get his hands on Prospero’s books first, as they are the source of his power.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Tempest - Act II

The Tempest
Act II

This is a strange repose, to be asleep
With eyes wide open; standing, speaking, moving,
And yet so fast asleep

Swam ashore, man, like a duck: I can swim like a duck, I’ll be sworn.

The shipwreck survivors stand around blabbing about not much in particular, except to note that their clothing seems rather pristine for having gone through a shipwreck. Just as I was about to snooze off Ariel comes by playing “solemn” music and most of the party falls asleep. None of them can see her so those who are still awake find this rather unusual.

There seems to be some disagreement about whether Ferdinand is still alive. While the others snooze Antonio and Sebastian mull it over and are about to come to blows when Ariel happens by and wakes everyone up. Which serves to defuse the situation and off they go to see if they can locate Ferdinand.

Elswhere on the island Stephano and Trinculo, two members of the courtly entourage who survived the shipwreck, come upon Caliban and aren’t sure what to make of him. Stephano gets the idea of turning a nice profit by taking him back to civilization as a sort of curiosity. Caliban’s thought is that he’ll be their servant so that he can be free of his hated master Prospero.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Tempest - Act I

The Tempest
Act I

If thou more murmur’st, I will rend an oak
And peg thee in his knotty entrails till
Thou hast howl’d away twelve winters.

So there’s a shipwreck. Then the scene shifts to Prospero’s island, which he occupies with the young Miranda, his daughter. Also on site are Ariel, who appears to be some kind of a shapeshifter, and Caliban, the mutant son of the wicked witch Sycorax. And, of course there's Gilligan and the Skipper too.

Turns out – as least as he tells it – that Prospero and Miranda ended up there after some political intrigue found them put to sea on a decidedly not seaworthy vessel, which wrecked on the island. Turnabout being fair play, it seems some of those who schemed against him also found themselves at sea and that the shipwreck that opens the play was conjured up by Prospero and Ariel, who have wizardy Harry Potter type powers.

All of which is quite fine stuff, actually, especially after the relative tedium of the Henry IV plays.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Henry IV, Part II - Summary

Henry IV, Part II

If you liked Henry IV, Part I, then you'll probably like this one, which was more of the same. Me, not so much. The mix of weighty matters of great import with the antics of Falstaff and the others still didn't do it for me. As for Falstaff himself, I gather that there are those who think he's one of Shakespeare's great characters. I put myself in the other camp, those who feel, as Samuel Johnson put it, "the fat knight has never uttered one sentiment of generosity, and for all his power of exciting mirth, has nothing in him that can be esteemed."

Friday, January 9, 2015

Henry IV, Part II - Act V

Henry IV, Part II
Act V

Sir John, thy tender lambkin now is king;
Harry the Fifth’s the man. I speak the truth:

The king is dead. Long live the king. But not before a little more blather from Falstaff and a few of his pals. I still fail to see the point. Falstaff and the boys are engaged in yet more revelry (imagine it) when word comes that the king has died. He wastes no time in heading off to court. He arrives shortly after the coronation and is told by the king himself, in no uncertain terms, that he is persona non grata. Putting away childish things and whatnot, I suppose. Falstaff’s pals are hauled off to the big house but if I read it right Falstaff himself remains free.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Henry IV, Part II - Act IV

Henry IV, Part II
Act IV

If I had a thousand sons, the first human principle I would teach them should be, to forswear thin potations and to addict themselves to sack.

Westmoreland meets with the Archbishop, Lord Hastings and some of the others to try to sort out the mess and perhaps head off the upcoming battle. They’re not wild about the idea but give him a list of grievances to pass on to Prince John. Who appears soon after to meet with them in person. They seem to have come to an agreement but after the rebels send away their troops the prince pulls a fast one and arrests them for the crime of high treason. Falstaff turns up, a day late and a dollar short, and proceeds to give a longish speech on the merits of boozing.

The good news is carried to the king, but he’s under the weather and it doesn’t do much for him. While he’s in a deep sleep, coma or whatever Prince Harry comes along and gives a little speech and takes the king’s crown, assuming he has already died. Which doesn’t go over so well with the not yet dead king. But he gets over it and proceeds to give Harry some (almost) deathbed advice.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Henry IV, Part II - Act III

Henry IV, Part II

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

The king is having a bout of insomnia, which leads him to muse about…insomnia and a few other things, including the generally sad state of affairs in his kingdom. Then it’s back to Falstaff yet again, in a somewhat tedious scene that finds him picking and choosing among potential mercenaries.

Are we there yet?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Henry IV, Part II - Act II

Henry IV, Part II
Act II

Ah, you sweet little rogue, you! Alas, poor ape, how thou sweatest!

Falstaff is about to be arrested, at the urging of Mistress Quickly, the tavern keeper, but he manages to weasel his way out of it. Then there’s some more hemming and hawing by various members of the rebel faction, which does not so much to advance the plot or entertain.

Then we’re back to Mistress Quickly and Falstaff who are back at the tavern, along with Doll Tearsheet. Who gets my vote for having the best Bond character name ever, centuries before there ever was a James Bond. Unfortunately this scene, like so many of Falstaff’s, seems interminable and completely pointless.