linked to this post about the film Anonymous
, which has removed any lingering doubts about whether I should go see it in a theater. Because the moment we hit the following dialogue exchange...
Oxford: “Romeo and Juliet. A romantic tragedy in iambic pentameter.”
Jonson: “ALL OF IT? Is it possible?”
Oxford: “Of course.”
...I would be on the floor. Howling
. And would probably need to be carried out. In a straight-jacket. Which would be unkind to the others in the theater. Though possibly less unkind than the experience of watching this movie.
So, okay, I have only an interested amateur's grasp of the literary history of this period. Yes, iambic pentameter blank verse was an important innovation for drama of the period - if you read the early Elizabethan dramas, the insistence on rhyming couplets does get rather clunky.
But, laying aside the inconvenient historical fact that blank verse iambic pentameter was in routine use well before Romeo and Juliet
(and indeed, for more than a decade before Ben Jonson was born), I have a tremendously hard time imagining a wide-eyed Ben Jonson reacting with the line given above. Ben Jonson is being played by Sebastian Armesto in this film - if he manages to sell that line, he deserves an Oscar.