The cheek of it! Reviewing anything by the Bard? Are you mad? Well, I can have an opinion, and here it is.
Almost everything that can be said about this play has already been said. I have never seen it performed but the text is as a good a read as any of the Bard’s work. It is, of course, a comedy, though it illustrates quite well how different the concept of comedy has become as the ages pass. In Shakespeare’s day, of course, it merely meant a piece of drama with a happy ending. And, for most of the characters in this work, the ending is happy. The reader, or playgoer, is required to suspend disbelief in a fairly extreme way for a couple of incidents. The conversions of Oliver and Frederick take some believing, considering the depths of their hatreds, but it’s all taken in good spirit. And, though the poet has messages to purvey, he has made this an entertainment before it is anything else.
There is great play made of the gender bending and, of course, since men played all the parts, the double entendres are many. A large number of songs appear in this play, more than I’ve come across previously and they sometimes appear to be no more than padding. What? Accusing the Bard of padding? Well, that’s the way they seemed to me. As did one or two of the smaller scenes, which appeared to have no bearing on the plot at all.
But I’m not complaining, merely pointing out those features that struck me whilst reading. I enjoyed the language (who can fail to do so?) of course. The characters were diverse and entertaining, even if a little thinly drawn on occasion.
Would I now go to see a performance? You bet.
And will I read more Shakespeare? Try to stop me.