Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Poolside Reading

The dogs, the wife, and I are unwinding with a week in St. Augustine, Florida, and the Oxford Middleton, alas, stays at home. Instead, I tucked a few choice entries from my list of "Renaissance Plays I'm Embarrassed I Haven't Read Yet" into my bag, and I'm enjoying working through them as I float around in the pool: The Alchemist, Sejanus His Fall, The White Devil (in my defense, I did see The White Devil, at the RSC's Swan in 1996). I brought The Atheist's Tragedy and The Duchess of Malfi, too, but it's not looking like I'll make it that far. Ah, well. On Google Docs, I have a list of something like 80 plays from the period, non-Shakespeare, non-Middleton, that I hope to read someday. I look at that list and think, "How have I made time for Mucedorus, but not Bartholomew Fair?"

That is one mis-spent youth.

Don't know if I'll have much to say about any of them; I'm enjoying playing the sponge this week. But I do have a handful of other items that have been piling up: links and blogs and articles, and I'll see if I can pry myself away from my gin and tonic long enough to put them in a presentable form. Also--accompanying me to Florida: Middleton's The Changeling on DVD, as filmed for the BBC in the very year of my birth, and starring the incomparable Helen Mirren!

I'll be back tomorrow. Right now, my ice is melting.


Alan K.Farrar said...

Could make you VERY green - saw Helen (all of her) several times live at the Royal Exchange in Manchester (possibly before you were born)in a couple of the plays you haven't yet read!
Same season, I think, had Ben Kingsley as Faustus.

Craig said...

Green, indeed. I believe she also acted Margaret of Anjou in Terry Hand's celebrated production of the Henry VI plays; that's one I'd set my time machine for.

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to your verdict on _Sejanus_ (it does open slowly, but I think it's worth it in the end) and _The Alchemist_, when you get to it (oh, but is it going to offend Thom if you turn your attention to another dramatist?!)

Craig Bryant said...

Well, I've made the all-important second reading of The Alchemist, and I really liked it (I usually need one reading just to get the outline of the plot--sometimes two). Sir Epicure Mammon and the Puritans are real standouts, and the plot moves like a bullet train. I might like to write about Volpone together with The Alchemist, and how you might look at the con men in each as sort of comic Marlovian over-reachers.

I still have one act to go on my _first_ read of Sejanus, but it certainly has its merits. I'm forever wondering how you'd stage the thing--it seems much more literary than dramatic, perhaps a consequence of the re-write Ben gave it before publication? And of course, the density of the history in the play is a barrier; I've barely got a handle on who the players are at this point, who hates who, and why. Thanks for the encouragement! I will try to put together some coherent thoughts on all of those plays once I've had time to digest and ruminate.