Travis_J_Smith’s #CBR5 Review #132: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher


In order to purchase Rainbow Rowell’s latest, I had to sell some old textbooks I had left sitting around from college. My plan, before one of those textbooks was deemed to be in “unacceptable condition” by Amazon, was to buy this and that together. Without that book, though, I didn’t receive enough credit for my trade-ins to afford separate shipping for each. I’ll just wait, I decided. They can ship together when Fangirl comes out in September. It seemed like an okay plan until I started growing impatient for both it and Fangirl. Amazon has always been notorious for being slow when it comes to notifying me, via text or email, when my order is either out for delivery or has been delivered. Whenever I’m out and get a text saying it’s out for delivery, I know that means it’s already long since arrived. This time, however, it was far worse, with the tracker itself getting in on the fun. One morning, it said it’d arrived at the carrier facility here at 7am, and I grew hopeful that it’d go out for delivery that same day. Nope. Tomorrow, then, I thought. I worked 8-4 and was checking the tracker constantly. No change. Naturally, I was irate. Does it seriously take two days to get it from the carrier facility in Butler to our house!? Is Amazon purposefully dragging this out so I don’t get it too long before the estimated delivery date? I would’ve gotten it two days before that if it’d gone out for delivery the same day it arrived in Butler. Yet, when I got home, there it was, and I didn’t receive the text/email notifying me of this until 8pm! Way to raise my blood pressure over nothing, Amazon, and whichever postal carrier was in charge of the tracking.

By the time I sat down to read William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, it’d been I believe at least a month since I initially placed the order. In other words, I had plenty of time to build my expectations up to unattainable heights.  Continue reading

iamnothamlet’s #CBR5 Review #27: Much Ado about Nothing by William Shakespeare

Plays count, right?

I want to see Joss Whedon’s new adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, but I thought it would be a good idea to familiarize myself with the plot and the language beforehand. While I had some time on a flight this weekend, I decided to download the play and see what it had to say.

Even for the comedies, Much Ado About Nothing is fairly light for Shakespeare. The action centers on two romantic entanglements. The love-at-first-sight between Hero, daughter of Leonato, and Claudio, a recently returned war hero. The other is the seeming mismatch between sharp-tongued Beatrice and the equally witty Benedick, a love which is dreamed up and brought about by several of the other characters.

Most of the events of the play come about as the result of overheard conversations and misunderstandings, pretty much the stock and trade of your more boiler-plate network TV sitcoms of our time.

The Hero and Claudio story hinges on thankfully antiquated ideas about femininity, chastity, and virtue. Hero is the subject of a foul trick by the jealous John the Bastard, who poisons her reputation with a fake romantic scene between his friend and a woman impersonating Hero. The so-called “happy ending” to this plot line has probably engendered thousands of papers in womyn’s studies courses over the years, but this is a comedy, so of course it has to end with a wedding.

I found Much Ado About Nothing to be fairly slight, and unmemorable, but maybe Shakespeare shouldn’t be read on a plane. Still looking forward to the movie.

Lisa Bee’s #CBR5 Review #14: The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare

The Winter's TaleThe Winter’s Tale
 is categorized as one of Shakespeare’s Romance plays, and, like Problem plays, it doesn’t really fall into a distinct classification as a straight tragedy, drama, or history. What is typical of the Romances, however, is their use of other-(worldliness and sometimes magical elements) to produce an effect. And unlike the other hard-to-categorize Problem plays, this work wasn’t really that much of a problem for me. In fact, I found it to be a lot more effortless in it’s unraveling than some of the previous Elizabethan works I have read. Predictable? Yes, it is ridiculously predictable, and I found myself saying, “because of course!” a number of times. But that predictability doesn’t really hinder it in the end, as this complements the easy course of action, giving the play a straightforward reading.

And as always, you can find out more about this tale and what I thought about it on my blog.

Lisa Bee’s #CBR5 Review #11: Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare

Measure for MeasureA girl that I know told me that she felt like she was reading a really old, historical episode of “Gossip Girl” when she read Measure for Measure, what with all the scheming, slut-shaming, and blackmail of these high-status people. Not to mention, the fact that it tries so hard to be serious, and yet, there is something missing and so cheesy about the ultimate resolution that it pushes the whole thing into a melodramatic mess of “are you kidding me right now?” I never thought I’d hear Shakespeare being related to “Gossip Girl”, but the more I think about it, the more the sentiment seems pretty on-point. I know, I know, I sound like I simply hate Shakespeare, what with my many not-so-great words on him lately, but this is not the case; in fact I absolutely love certain works of the Bard! But these days, he’s becoming more and more hit-and-miss for me. And this? This was a miss. Let me explain:

Measure for Measure is often categorized as one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays,” in that it is not strictly a comedy, nor a tragedy, and I can definitely understand the problem that lies in this (then again, Hamlet is often considered a problem play as well, and that I don’t quite get). Measure for Measure is set up to follow the standard plot and resolution of Elizabethan comedies, but it is simply not funny, and the characters fall too far from being likeable enough to allow for their downfalls to be considered tragic. In fact, I found this play to be a bit misanthropic in its distrust of rulers and divine forces, the two-faced natures of those who appear to be loyal on the surface, the conflicting feelings regarding human sexuality, and the idea that the downfall of each gender is the other. Continue reading

Lisa Bee’s #CRB5 Review #09: Richard II by William Shakespeare

Richard II coverRichard, Richard, Richard… What ever are we going to do with you?

No, this isn’t the one they found under the car park a few weeks ago, this is the one that came before all the Henrys. If I’m being honest with this one, while I do love my serious Shakespearean tales, his histories are not really my thing. The large amounts of (real) characters, almost all of which are Dukes or nobility of some sort always leave me confused as to who is who and who is on whose side. And I’m sorry to say that I found Richard II to be no different. After being a little confused as to how the whole thing went down, however, I decided to watch the BBC’s film version of the play with Ben Whishaw (as a part of their “Hollow Crown” series), and it definitely helped me understand not only what happened, but also what exactly was being said. And in this way, like some of Shakespeare’s other works, I found Richard II to be much more suited to viewing than reading.

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Lisa Bee’s #CBR5 Review #06: Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Much Ado About NothingAfter harshing quite a bit on the previous Shakespeare play I read, Twelfth Night, we now come to the comedy of Much Ado About Nothing. And this comedy, for some reason, I enjoyed much more than the previous one. I’m not really going to compare and contrast the two, however, as they are just so different in terms of where they draw their comedic factors from.

I remember seeing the 1993 film of this play back in the eighth grade, and in all honesty, I had no idea what was going on. All I know is that I found Robert Sean Leonard’s melodramatic acting to be hilarious, and by God, did Kenneth Branagh ever worm his way into my heart, the sly devil! Upon reading it now though, I appreciate the language and plot a lot more, even if the story itself follows a simple course to its predictable, rosy end (as is to be expected in Shakespearean comedies). In any case, here’s an extensive rundown, with the ending included… Spoilers? Can I really “spoil” a 500 year-old play?:

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Lisa Bee’s #CBR5 Review #04: Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Twelfth NightAnd so my long and arduous stream of Shakespeare reviews begins (as spurred by required readings in my current English course). I’d apologize, but we all need a little Will in our lives every now and again, huh? And with that quick wit of his, I was quite excited to read Shakespeare’s comedy, Twelfth Night. But let me tell you, I have never before been more frustrated with a play in my entire life.

No no no, not in a, “oh, sweet young thing doesn’t understand Shakespeare,” kind of way. In a, “wow, these characters are really grinding my gears” kind of way. And more than anything else, I was frustrated by the fact that this comedy of errors is not funny. Don’t get me wrong, it does follow the typical “comic” path of the plot being driven by mistaken identities and people playing tricks on others for sport with unforeseeable consequence until the ultimate, tidy end, with many a loving union. But you don’t read Shakespeare for a unique story (in fact, they are often considered quite simple and generic): you read his works for the language, and I just found Twelfth Night to be far less clever and exploratory in regards to the possibilities of language than I was expecting. In fact, most of the puns are ridiculously self-explanatory and straightforward, which quickly becomes tiring.

As to what actually happens in the play, if your memory of the Amanda Bynes “at least one movie every year featuring a montage where she dresses in silly things and usually dances while doing so” era still serves you well, then you probably have at least a vague idea of the plotline. If not, then here’s a lengthy rundown: Continue reading