Friday, March 25, 2022

Book Note: A Bright Ray of Darkness

Hawke, Ethan. A Bright Ray of Darkness. New York: Knopf, 2021.
Here's another novel that involves a select group of people engaging with Shakespeare. This time, it's a troupe of professional actors.

William Harding, our protagonist and narrator, is a famous movie star whose life is falling apart. He has been unfaithful to his rock-star wife, and all the tabloids (and others) are shouting about it. All that when he's on the verge of his Broadway premiere in Shakespeare's 1 Henry IV

Ethan Hawke is a famous movie star. Remember his Hamlet (for which, q.v.)? I don't know anything about his private life, but he does have considerable insight into how an actor does the job of acting, which is the part of the novel I found most interesting.

In that light, let me give you a sample—it's opening night of the play, and Harding is giving the role of Hotspur everything he's got.  [As a quick note, this novel is heavily on the R-rated side in general.]

I find that quite insightful.

The connections to the other actors are also developed convincingly—as is the way the director is portrayed.

Finally, I appreciated the choice of play—it wasn't one of the biggies we often find in Shakespeare-related novels. I'm not particularly drawn to the Henry IV plays, but this helped me gain one insider's perspective.

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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