Monday, July 31, 2023

We All Liked As You Like It at the Great River Shakespeare Festival

As You Like It
. Dir. Tarah Flanagan. Perf. Eliana Rowe, Ashley Bowen, Benjamin Boucvalt, Emily Fury Daly, Christopher Gerson, De'Onna Prince, Michael Fitzpatrick, Alegra Batara, Duncan McIntyre, Adeyinka Adebola, Chauncy Thomas, and William Sturdivant. Great River Shakespeare Festival. Winona, Minnesota. 2023.

The image here is of the set of the Great River Shakespeare Festival's recent production of As You Like It. It embodies and illustrates Jaques' most famous line: "All the world's a stage."

It's also the Great River Shakespeare Festival's vision of Jan Kott or Peter Brook's idea of the stage as an empty canvas.

A canvas or a stage can be filled with, of course, anything. The GRSF fills theirs with wonder.

The 2023 season is over, so these comments on the GRSF's As You Like It are only promotional in the sense that I want everyone to block out room next summer for the 2024 season. Because of that, I won't be providing a detailed review. Instead, I want to tell you about some of the things the GRSF troupe put on that blank stage.

Falling in Love

There's [Spoiler!] a lot of falling in love in the play. Every time someone fell in love—whether upon first meeting, as with Orlando and Rosalind, or after a long and roundabout journey, as with Phoebe and Silvius—the lighting would change, the actors would all freeze, someone would ring a handbell, and one actor would sing "Love!" in a bright, clear voice. Every time someone fell in love, it was absolutely ridiculous. And it was utterly believable. 


I adored the scenes with Charles the Wrestler. First, Christopher Gerson created a preposterous persona for the character. Before the action started, his mustache was actually introduced separately. While watching the show, I thought of a mustachioed Hulk Hogan, but, really, Shawn Michaels (The Heartbreak Kid) was the inspiration.

And it was hilarious. Charles had this obnoxious (and thoroughly enjoyable) chant that he would break into at the slightest provocation: "I . . . am . . . Charles! I . . . am . . . Charles!" 

The wrestling itself was somewhat reminiscent of early WWF matches. They achieved this effect by frequently moving in slow-motion. At first, it would be a slow-motion punch that was blocked or ducked. But then a couple of the other actors moved behind Charles, and, on the "Charles" of his chant, they lifted him into the air so that he seemed to leap from one edge of the stage to the other to deliver a powerful punch or kick to Orlando. When [Spoiler!] Charles is defeated, he falls in slow motion to the mat and (and I was deeply impressed by the technical prowess needed to carry this off) bounced in slow motion several times. 

Seven Ages

Jaques' "Seven Ages" speech has become something of a set piece, I suppose. The difficulty is to try to work it organically into the performance. For example, having Jaques step forward to downstage center and hitting him with a spotlight would call even greater attention to a well-known speech.

This production overcame the first difficulty. It seemed to be something Jaques had been thinking over for a while. When Jaques gave his speech, moreover, he drifted upstage and then sat down. That movement puzzled me at first, but it worked to integrate the speech into the performance.

Another difficult is that the speech can be something of a downer. The seventh age ("Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing") isn't intrinsically hopeful. And if Jaques' melancholia is of the dismal variety, he can seem utterly unfeeling, especially since Old Adam enters right after that line.

This production had Jaques immediately leap to Old Adam's aid. Whatever he may talk or think, he's caring and thoughtful.


Most productions that I've seen put the intermission at the break between Act III, scene i (Duke Frederick ordering Olivier to track down his brother, dead or alive) and Act III, scene ii (Orlando hanging terrible poetry on every tree in the forest). That means that everyone in settled in Arden and marks a shift in tone in the play.

This production waited through a good portion of Act III, ii.  Orlando plants his poems, Touchstone and Celia have a chance to mock it, Rosalind learns that it's the very Orlando that she loves who is in the very forest where she is and who is writing love poems about her. We also get to see Jaques and Touchstone getting (mildly) on each other's nerves. Rosalind also has a chance to get up the nerve to talk to him. She says (to Celia), "I will speak to him, like a saucy lackey, and under the habit play the knave with him." Then, to Orlando, she says, "Do you hear, forester?"  Orlando turns and


[The Tom Petty song "The Waiting is the Hardest Part" starts to play.]

It was a lovely, suspenseful moment to break.

All the Nothing that Happens 

If there's a commonly-voiced criticism of As You Like It, it's that a whole bunch of nothing happens in Acts III to V. Plot-wise (especially when reading the play), that's true. To this production's credit, I never felt a lull in the action at all. I was interested in everything everyone said from start to finish.

Dealing with a Difficulty

In reading the play, all the love matches seem like great fun—with the exception of Touchstone and Audrey. Touchstone seems creepy—almost predatory—and Audrey doesn't seem alert enough to know his intentions.  And Touchstone seems to like it that way.

In this play, the genders were reversed.  Touchstone was female and Audrey was male. For some reason, that made the comedy considerably less problematic. If she is pursuing he, it's far less icky. That meant we were much more able to enjoy the humor of those passages.


The overall feeling of the play is joy. The lovers are delighted in each other; the audience is delighted in them. In some productions, Jaques' exit casts something of a pall on an otherwise happy ending. Here, it seemed that Jaques was finding his joy there while others were finding their joy in the matrimonial celebrations.

Concluding Remarks

The 2024 schedule isn't out yet, but make a pact with me that we'll all go see whatever plays they're offering multiple times and with great enjoyment!

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Shakespeare in FoxTrot's Eight Yards, Down and Out

Amend, Bill. Eight Yards, Down and Out. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel, 1992.

Note: I'm backdating this post from its actual composition date of 29 November 2023 so that it fits into the chronological journey through all the FoxTrot volumes.

On my first pass through Bill Amend's Eight Yards, Down and Out, I didn't find any Shakespeare. But I thought perhaps I should try one more time, just to be sure.

And, yes, with a bit of squinting, I can just see a bit of Shakespeare.

For example, Shakespeare relates to the question in the detail above from the comic below. What does literature have to do with life? If we rewrite that to be "What does Shakespeare have to do with life?" we find the answer "An awful lot!"

In the next comic, Peter and Paige are complaining about the amount of homework they have to do, and Peter tries to top Paige by noting that he has "a stupid poem to analyze." I'd like to imagine that the poem in question is one of Shakespeare's sonnets—and that Peter will learn just how not stupid it is once he gets around to analyzing it. 

Finally, Peter and Denise are studying—sort of:

Apparently, Denise is knowledgeable about the renaissance, which I take to mean the English Renaissance, which I take to mean, at least in part, Shakespeare.

It just shows what you can miss when you're not paying attention!

Click below to purchase the book from
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Friday, July 28, 2023

Shakespeare in FoxTrot's Black Bart Says Draw

Amend, Bill. Black Bart Says Draw. Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel, 1991.

The next stop on our Shakespeare in FoxTrot quest will be a brief one. I suppose we can't demand that every volume has a week-long Shakespeare-related plot, as much as we'd like two.

In Black Bart Says Draw, we get two pretty tangential-to-Shakespeare comics. In the first, Shakespeare is merely mentioned as one author among many that Paige will be reading on her self-improvement campaign:

Later, one of the Sunday Funnies alludes to Hamlet's most famous soliloquy:

That's it for that volume, but we'll move forward to see what else we can find!

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Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Peter Saccio on Lawrence Olivier's Shylock

Merchant of Venice
. Dir. John Sichel. Perf. Laurence Olivier, Joan Plowright, Jeremy Brett, and Michael Jayston. 1973. Videocassette. LIVE Home Video, 1993.
Saccio, Peter. "The Merchant of Venice: Shylock." Lecture 8 of William Shakespeare: Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Chantilly, Virginia: The Teaching Company, 1999.

For years, lectures from The Teaching Company (now known as The Great Courses) have been a staple of my listening diet. They have made doing chores, commuting, and trying to fall asleep much more pleasurable over the years.

Peter Saccio's lectures on Shakespeare are delightful and insightful in equal measure. 

In one of his lectures on Merchant of Venice, Saccio speaks about one of the most troubling parts of the play—it's one of the scenes that leads to people mistakenly calling the play a tragedy instead of a comedy. That element is at the end of the courtroom scene where Shylock is offered "mercy" in being ordered to convert to Christianity. And Saccio recounts how the scene was played by Laurence Olivier in a stage production he witnessed.

Here's that portion of Saccio's lecture:

The film of The Merchant of Venice that stars Laurence Olivier isn't the same as the stage performance Saccio describes, but it has similarities:

That production nicely captures the tragic elements of the comedy. Shylock has been told that he should extend mercy so that mercy might be shown to him. And that's all well and good and a reasonable and meaningful lesson. But at the end of the scene, we see how those who hold the power in Venice redefine "mercy" for their own ends. They're trying to spin the punishment they're exacting on Shylock as merciful, but I'm not certain that true mercy is found in not being as completely harsh as you could be.

I have more to say about Merchant, so stay tuned.

Links: The Film at IMDB. Peter Saccio's Lectures at The Great Courses.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2023

The Second Suitor in Laurence Olivier's Merchant of Venice

Merchant of Venice
. Dir. John Sichel. Perf. Laurence Olivier, Joan Plowright, Jeremy Brett, and Michael Jayston. 1973. Videocassette. LIVE Home Video, 1993.

I've been wanting to return to some considerations about Merchant of Venice, but I've been distracted by books, podcasts, and other Shakespeariana. But I'm trying to work my way back to that conversation.

Let's ease into it with a comic scene from the John Sichel's Merchant of Venice—which starred Laurence Olivier as Shylock. 

There are very serious elements in the Olivier Merchant of Venice, but there are also moments that play up the fairytale elements of the play.

One of those is the second suitor. In Sichel's Merchant, the Prince of Arragon is marked as unsuitable not merely because of his arrogant attitude and (quite possibly) his greed but because he's old enough to be Portia's great-grandfather. I mentioned this back in 2008 (for which, q.v.), but I didn't have the technical wherewithal (or, perhaps, the time) to illustrate my comments with a clip from the film. But I can do that now!

I find that to be a marvelous way of indicating that we don't need to worry about the casket game. The second suitor is hyperbolically unsuitable. And we know that he won't choose correctly—which, if we're thinking of that plot as fairtytalesque, we knew already.

But it also opens a small door to critique Portia's father's will. What if this doddering old man actually, through some Monty Hall random luck, had chosen correctly? It doesn't seem like Portia would have to wait very long until she's a widow, but still. Is the will a wise or a foolish document?

We'll return to Sichel's Merchant next time!

Links: The Film at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the film from
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Monday, July 24, 2023

The Becoming Identical Podcast Considers Identical Twins in Shakespeare

Balzer, Dan, and Dave Balzer. "Shakespeare's Folly." With special guest Keith Jones. Becoming Identical. Episode 19. 21 July 2023. Spotify for Podcasters.

For a little over a year, identical twins Dave and Dan Balzer have been doing a podcast in which they consider the significance of their being identical: What does it mean that it was very difficult to tell them apart when they were younger? What does it mean that they took advantage of that to play many different pranks on the relatively-unsuspecting? What does it mean that they have become less identical over their fifty years on this earth? Can they, later in life, become as identical as they were in their early years? Do they want to?

When Dave, on his way home to Winnipeg, stopped by the Twin Cities to pick up Dan, I happened to mention that Shakespeare has a number of twins in his plays.

From that off-hand remark came the "Shakespeare's Folly" episode of the podcast. In it, I try to explain the import of having two sets of identical twins in The Comedy of Errors and Dan and Dave try to determine whether that's relevant to their exploration of their identity as identical twins. 

Listen to the episode (I've embedded it below, but there are also convenient links at the bottom of this post). I think you'll enjoy it enough to say, "I came for the Shakespeare, but I stayed for Dave and Dan!"

Now that you've listened to that, you're probably wondering why I didn't have much to say about actual twins during the English Renaissance. First, I don't know that much about the subject. But I've requested a classic book on families during this time period by Lawrence Stone that may have some insight, and I'm tracking down a book by Daisy Murray called Twins in Early Modern English Drama and Shakespeare. I'll let you know what I find.

The other set of twins that I should have mentioned is Shakespeare's! In the heat of the fast-paced interview, Hamnet and Judith didn't come to mind, and I apologize to them.

If you're disappointed that we didn't talk about Twelfth Night, start your own podcast about fraternal twins—I'll be happy to be your guest!

Finally, I would like to think some more about the identical names in The Comedy of Errors. Each set of twins in that play is identical down to the name: We have Dromio and Dromio and Antipholus and Antipholus. I think this both heightens and underlines their identical nature, and that means there's an even more profound revelation of each twin's individual identity at the end of the play.

Links: The Episode on the Spotify Website. A Direct Link to the Episode on the Spotify App.

How Identical Can Two People Be?

Becoming Identical is sponsored by . . .

Friday, July 21, 2023

Shakespeare in FoxTrot's Pass the Loot

Amend, Bill. Pass the Loot. Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel, 1990.

And so we continue on our quest to document the uses Bill Amend has made of Shakespeare in his brilliant and long-lived FoxTrot.

In his second published volume, we get a little more engagement with Shakespeare. But it doesn't happen right away.

First, we get a mere reference to Macbeth being part of a homework assignment:

That's not much. But we soon get a week-long series about Paige's engagement with Antony and Cleopatra.

The week's worth of Antony and Cleopatra is capped with a Sunday where Paige emerges herself in the role of Cleopatra.   

It's all great fun. Whenever Shakespeare shows up in FoxTrot, I have the same excitement Mrs. Fox has when she learns Paige is reading Shakespeare:

Click below to purchase the book from
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Thursday, July 20, 2023

A Tiny, Subtle Slice of A Midsummer Night's Dream in The Office

"Gettysburg." By Robert Padnick. Perf. Rainn Wilson, Oscar Nuñez, and Alyssa Larsen. Dir. Jeffrey Blitz. The Office. Season 8, episode 8. NBC. 17 November 2011. DVD. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, 2018.

In the episode of The Office entitled "Gettysburg," many of the worker in the office take a trip to . . . well, Gettysburg.

While there, Dwight Schrute annoys everyone by insisting that there was a more northerly battle of the Civil War than Gettysburg, namely, The Battle of Schrute Farms.

Eventually, Oscar finds an archivist who shows them part of a documentary about that battle. Let's take a look.

You didn't hear any Shakespeare mentioned in that scene, but if you were watching carefully, your eye would have been caught by the image that heads this post.

What other play could they be performing than Midsummer Night's Dream? One actor has wings and a magic flower; another has the ears of a donkey on his head.

It's subtle, but there you have one more among many Shakespeare allusions (for which, q.v. and q.v. and q.v.) in The Office.

Links: The Episode at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the season from
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Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Back to the Beginning: Shakespeare in FoxTrot

Amend, Bill. FoxTrot. Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel, 1989.

I've posted FoxTrot comics here for many years, but a recent on-line exchange let me know that I hadn't posted every instance of Shakespeare that I've been able to find in FoxTrot.

This, then, is an attempt to fill that gap, starting from the first published volume and heading on from there. It's not "FoxTrot Week at Bardfilm"—these will come sporadically as I encounter them.

But here are two from Bill Amend's first published volume of FoxTrot comics.

First, a little Hamlet-related joke to open things off.

And then we have a little reference to King Lear:

More to follow!  And thanks, Bill Amend, for all the great Shakespeare in your astonishing comics.

Click below to purchase the book from
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Tuesday, July 18, 2023

“Goodnight, Ladies [and Gentlemen]. Goodnight, Sweet Ladies [and Gentlemen]. Goodnight. Goodnight”: Why Bardfilm is Leaving Twitter

"Hath he not twit our sovereign lady here / With ignominious words?" —2 Henry VI, III.i.178.

Twitter launched on 15 July 2006. My first tweet was on 14 November 2008 (for which, q.v.). No one would say that I'm an early adopter, but no one can say I'm unfamiliar with Twitter and the way it works.

Or, really, the way Twitter used to work.

I joined Twitter to try to win an iPad. It was a haiku contest, and, naturally, I took it in a Shakespeare-related direction. It won second place. But it also got me interested in this microblogging site that I'd be hearing more and more about in the preceding months. 

It was great fun. I've frequently said that Twitter is (or at least can be) a playground. I enjoyed spending time playing with language and Shakespeare and music with other people on Twitter. For the first ten years or so, I found a number of people who were figuring out what we could do with this nifty entity that we'd joined. Even official Twitter accounts for big-name entities were playing and exploring and were willing to join in with #Hashtag games or knock-knock jokes or Shakespearean haiku.

And because of all the fun and all the people playing, Twitter was a great place for shameless self-promotion! I wanted Bardfilm to have a greater readership, and I found that the people who came to play didn't mind occasionally seeing what I had to say in a greater-than-140-character format.

But why will Bardfilm will be leaving Twitter after nearly fifteen years? 

It's because this Twitter isn't that Twitter.
  • Twitter is no longer a playground. 
The majority of official Twitter accounts have become very corporate in their attitude and style. They're unwilling to make jokes, play with words, or respond to queries—whether the questions are teasing or legitimate.

And a lot of Twitter is about yelling at other people. If it's a playground, it's a playground populated with a lot of bullies. There might be room to play around the edges, but it's impossible not to overhear the loud arguments taking place in the vicinity.
  • Twitter is no longer a viable means to self-promotion.
I never had a tremendous following. It peaked near 2,000 followers. All the same, many of those followers would engage with the Shakespeare content on Twitter (one of my most popular tweets was from early in the pandemic and was only tangentially related to Shakespeare) and (to a lesser extent) with the material on the Bardfilm blog. But with the general flight (ha!) from Twitter and from the way Twitter has changed over the years, there's very little payoff.
  • Twitter's administration is making whimsical decisions that lead to uncertainty.
I don't think I would be in danger of reading more than the allotted number of tweets, but, even if I were, I wouldn't pay for that dubious privilege. But there are those who wouldn't pay for it but would reach it—and they might reach the limit right before getting to my most important tweet of the day.

I also don't think that the way the management is trying to monetize Twitter is going to work. I don't have a solution, but charging for more tweets, charging for a blue checkmark, or charging for anyone—Twitter subscriber or not—to be able to view Tweets (that last one was a belayed policy) isn't working and won't work, especially as more and more people leave the platform.
  • The "Upgrade" to the Tweetdeck™ interface has made it ridiculously difficult to use.
There are probably third-party interfaces that would be better, but I can't be bothered. But the upgrade to Tweetdeck can probably be counted the straw that broke the camel's back. It should be a set of smallish, narrow columns with a simple "Clear Tweets" button at the top of each (together with a button to change more advanced settings). Instead, it's columns so big and wide that two barely fit on my relatively-wide screen. And if you want to clear tweets, you have to open the entire preferences column—itself very nearly as wide as a feeds column. Before the "upgrade," it wasn't great (you had to open the preferences to clear tweets . . . they changed that before Tweetdeck was bought by Twitter, actually), but it was useable. But the current interface is horrible and horrific.

Where, then, will we find Bardfilm in the future?

First of all, here! Set a daily (or at least a weekly) bookmark or put Bardfilm into an RSS feed reader and join the conversation!

Second, I've been on Instagram for a while. It lacks the back-and-forth of early Twitter, but please find me there and start a conversation in the comments!

I'm also trying Threads to see if it will be a playground that will also allow for self-promotion. At present, though, it's deeply frustrating. I would like to see posts only from people I follow. Instead, my feed is filled with people and organizations I've never heard of and never want to hear from. If that becomes something users can control, I'll be there often. If not, my activity there will dwindle.

Mastodon, I'm finding, is doing a much better job of fitting my criteria. I'm likely to be more and more active there. But the one thing it doesn't yet have . . . is you! Please join me for conversation there!

I'm going to miss the voices I've been listening to on Twitter—especially those I've followed for ten or more years. But I'm no longer going to be there regularly. I may still post the occasional "Now at Bardfilm" tweet . . . or I may just let ShakespeareGeek's account remind you about new posts automatically.

Or I might try to do better at Redditing. The r/Shakespeare often has interesting questions and comments.

I look forward to engaging with you in one or more of these venues. It's great fun to have fun with Shakespeare. Let's find a way to keep playing.

Links: Bardfilm on InstagramBardfilm on ThreadsBardfilm on Mastodon Bardfilm on Blogger. Bardfilm on Twitter (mainly an archive from 2006 to 2023). Shakespeare on Reddit.

Monday, July 17, 2023

A Brief and Hilarious Biography of Shakespeare: Wm. Shakespeare, Gent. (by W. Tripp, Gent.)

Tripp, Wallace.
Wm. Shakespeare, Gent. (by W. Tripp, Gent). N.p.: N.p., 1962.

A little over ten years ago, I posted on the wondrous works of the illustrious illustrator Wallace Trip, emphasizing the way he worked Shakespeare in to his collections of nursery rhymes, quotations, and poems (for which, q.v.).

More recently, I heard from Wallace Tripp's daughter Loren, who shook my foundations by telling me that the lamentably now departed Wallace Tripp wrote and illustrated a farcical biography of Shakespeare when he (Tripp) was in art school. The book remains unpublished, but it's available at the website Loren maintains.

I immediately dropped everything and devoured the book. I found it to be clever and hysterical in equal measure. It captures the tone of the abbreviated historical biographies of the era and mocks them in a dry, wry, tongue-in-cheek manner that is most pleasing.

For example, Tripp provides his own version of Shakespeare's coat of arms. Shakespeare's reads Non Sanz Droict (Latin for "not without right," asserting—though by way of litotes rather than directly—that Shakespeare had the right to be called a gentleman). Tripp's version says Sanz Non Droict (Pseudo-Latin for "Without No Right," implying that Tripp has no right to write a biography of Shakespeare).

Tripp also offers such subtleties as these:

. . . when he was eighteen he married Anne Hathaway, several years his senior, who five months later gave birth to a premature ten-pound girl.

[Queen Elizabeth I] was called "The Virgin Queen" probably because humor was so popular in those times.

[In Julius Caesar,] Caesar has too many men about him who are thin.


Marlowe was killed in a tavern brawl at twenty-nine, which ended his literary career. 

If you needed any more convincing, note that the book comes with a typically verbose and non-committal introduction by Sir Geoffrey Twinge, Earl of Shatwell.

With all that to recommend it, I wanted to have the world take note of it. I asked Loren Tripp if I could have permission to make a recording of the book and an accompanying video with illustrations from the book and elsewhere. She graciously consented, I accordingly recorded and compiled, and, with as much pomp and circumstance (or even just a little bit of pomp if we're fresh out of circumstance) that we can muster, I bring you a reading of Wm. Shakespeare, Gent. (by W. Tripp, Gent.). Enjoy (as if there were another option)!

Links: The Book at Pawprints Cards. Wallace Tripp cards and apparel.

Blog-native version of the video (in case the YouTube embedded above stops working for some reason):

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Book Note: Panic in Box C

Carr, John Dickson. Panic in Box C. New York: Berkley Publishing Company, 1968.

While we're on the subject of classic detective fiction involving Shakespeare in one way or another, let me take you to Panic in Box C.

Carr's novel, written quite late in his career, doesn't have as much Shakespeare as some other murder mysteries Bardfilm has written about. And its plot becomes increasingly unbelievable (and perhaps even a bit incoherent) as it goes along. 

The plot involves a production of Romeo and Juliet, a crossbow or two, a man with a papier-mâché head, and a woman sitting all alone in Box C during a rehearsal. It also has long-estranged spouses, a drunken man who snuck in the theatre, an automatic stage trap, and a college fight song competition.

It's a jumble of irrelevancies (mostly) that just manage to come to a bumpy conclusion. As always, I'd like more Shakespeare—especially if you're bringing Romeo and Juliet along for the ride. Can't that estranged couple have some interesting connection to the plot of the play? It seems like it wouldn't be hard to work something in pretty organically. But we don't get it.

Let me give you a representative scene. Chapter 15 describes what was going on on stage while the murder was committed:

It the Shakespeare hadn't been there (even in its limited way), I would have given up on the novel long before this. As it is, it just kept me reading . . . but with disappointing results.

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Monday, July 10, 2023

Book Note: Hamlet, Revenge!

Innes, Michael. Hamlet, Revenge! New York: Penguin, 1979.

Here at Bardfilm, we've talked about the frequent Shakespeare allusions in Agatha Christie (q.v. for one example). And we've addressed the two Ngaio Marsh novels that incorporate Shakespeare to a great degree (for Death at the Dolphin, q.v.; for Light Thickens, q.v.). But I've recently found a couple works of older classic detective fiction where Shakespeare figures largely. 

Michael Innes (the pen name of J. I. M. "Jim" Stewart) wrote dozens of detective novels. His second, Hamlet, Revenge!, is set in a grand manor house in the country where an amateur production of Hamlet is underway. The title comes from a work by Thomas Lodge that describes a play in which a ghost "who cried so miserably at the Theatre like an oyster-wife, 'Hamlet, revenge!'" [The work is Wits Miserie, printed in 1596, several years before Shakespeare's Hamlet was first printed; it provides evidence for the so-called Ur-Hamlet, an earlier version of Hamlet (now lost) that has some obscure connection to the play by Shakespeare.]

The Lord Chancellor of England is playing Polonius; when his character is killed behind the arras, the Lord Chancellor is actually killed behind the arras.

Leading up to that, the house is plagued by threatening Shakespeare quotes from a number of different plays.

Here's a representative sample from early in the novel:

You get your classic Scottish gardener and your classic Scottish play there, with Shakespeare quotations and allusions thick on the ground. And the amazing notion (or is it just a joke?) that someone has borrowed a First Folio for the production—and that they're fearful she'll start making notes in its margins. 

All in all, it's a good story (thought the solution is a bit fantastical), and it's fun for the Shakespeare aficionado to imagine the ins and outs of a production of Hamlet.

Click below to purchase the book from
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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.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2039 (and into perpetuity thereafter) by Keith Jones.

The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest