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In which I am not dead and watch Shakespeare 
12th-Dec-2013 12:55 pm
bannakaffalatta, short
I'm not dead! It's just been a slightly hectic past few weeks.

Something I learned about time management: I thought that I was being tremendously clever in scheduling most of my physical therapy appointments in the early morning, so I could get them over with and get on with my day. I forgot that with the increasingly close collaboration I have with colleagues in different time zones, early morning is also practically the only time we have to hold important work meetings. This has turned my work schedule for the past few weeks into something akin to a slightly stressful game of temporal Tetris. I've learned my lesson - my last two physical therapy appointments are scheduled for early afternoon. It will mean a bit more driving back and forth, but I think I'll be saner.

Physical therapy is going pretty well. I'm not all better yet, but I've got a pretty functional range of movement in everything except the "reaching up between my shoulder blades" movement, which remains sticky.

And then I got a horrible cold and lay around at home for a few days. Daniel, who knows how to look after a sick Wendy very well, brought me a few liters of diet ginger ale, and the DVDs of the BBC's recent production of The Hollow Crown - Shakespeare's Richard II, Henry IV (Parts 1 and 2), and Henry V. I watched Richard II and thought it was an excellent production. The cast is basically a who's who of British actors, but Ben Whishaw is particularly good as Richard II. Richard II is a difficult role to play, because he's basically someone who is making a great outward show of being king without having the decisiveness or the political savvy to back it up. I think my initial reaction to reading the play was basically, "For god's sake, kid, hand over the crown to Bolingbroke and put us all out of our misery." But when you see the role played by an actor with real charisma, it really changes the play, because you half buy into Richard's image of himself. My only quibble with this version is that they cut down the farewell scene between Richard and his queen, which I remember being really heartbreaking in the Arkangel Shakespeare audio version of the play, and in this version was merely mildly heartstring-tugging.

Also, I think maybe they over-egged the visual coding of Richard as effeminate and Bolingbroke as manly. Because there's really no connection between having fabulous hair and wearing pink and being ineffectual at governance. (Ben Whishaw does have fabulous hair in this, though. If the BAFTA awards had a category for best performance by a ringlet, this would have been a shoe-in.)

Looking forward to watching the rest of the set. Which has Tom Hiddleston as Prince Hal/Henry V. Niiice.
13th-Dec-2013 12:32 am (UTC)
When I was young, King Lear was my favorite Shakespeare play. For about the past 15 or 20 years, Richard II has been my favorite. I should probably go on a re-reading binge and see if my preferences have changed. My recollection (it has been some time since I last looked at either play) is that Richard II has more glittering bits of poetry in it than Lear, despite Lear's greater reputation. Lear is all about huge emotions common to all families, with the battles of monarchs and madmen as decoration. Richard II is about the love of England, an attachment to the physicality of the land, with all the more familiar and ordinary emotions of greed for power and competition between family members really subsidiary to that attachment.

Damn, do I really believe that? I think I do, but I haven't put it that way even to myself before now. It seems like an odd reading; I'l have to see if I hold to it after looking at the play again.

Thanks for the prompt. I hope you get over the cold soon, and that you enjoy all the Shakespeare you watch.
13th-Dec-2013 01:13 am (UTC)
Actually, I don't think that's such an odd reading at all. Certainly one of its most quoted passages ("This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle...") is basically a love poem to England. And in the Hollow Crown version, both Bolingbroke and Richard, on returning to England, immediately fall down and kiss the earth.

Richard II is rather underrated as a Shakespeare play. Though if you pushed me to pick a favorite, I'd probably choose Richard III.
13th-Dec-2013 06:55 am (UTC)
Richard III is one of my favorites as well! The scene where the Duchess of York curses out Richard at length was particularly good, and I loved Maggie Smith in that role in the 1995 movie version.
13th-Dec-2013 06:52 am (UTC)
Diet ginger ale plus The Hollow Crown sound like excellent choices to bring a sick Wendy. Daniel is very clever. :)

I've actually been meaning to get my hands on a copy of that production but wasn't sure if it was released on DVD or Blu-ray yet. After you've had a chance to watch (and possibly re-watch) them, I would really love to borrow them.

Feel better!
13th-Dec-2013 05:55 pm (UTC)
Sure, I'd be happy to lend them to you!
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