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Blind spots?


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#1 richard

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 11:34 AM

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One reviewer of the recent RSC Tempest transfer admitted that The Tempest was one of his blind spots.  This set me wondering what other people's blind spots are.  I certainly agree about The Tempest - did Shakespeare ever write a more boring First Act?  But my biggest Shakespearean blind spot is King Lear, the poor man's Timon of Athens.  I have never understood its inflated reputation.  The 18th century had it right, especially Nahum Tate.   My 'podium' Shakespeare blind spots are completed with Twelfth Night, all that tedious Toby Belch stuff.
Other blind spots - Volpone (in fact most of Jonson, though Bartholomew Fare can be a good romp, well done), Restoration comedy, especially The Way of the World, The Seagull (yawn!), The Caretaker (get on with it and get to Sidcup, Ed), Waiting for Godot (read some of the contemporary reviews, especially by Harold Hobson), and all those soporific 'cutting edge' political dramas of the 1980s, especially Absence of War.
And of course Jane Austen, with the possible exception of Mansfield Park, is virtually unreadable.  And as for those endless picaresque novels of the 18th century.

#2 Ian

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 11:43 AM

I know he is highly revered by almost all of the biggest names in theatre today, but for me Chekhov is the biggest turn-off. I have seen many of the widely admired productions and still failed to tune-in to the greatness. huh.gif
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#3 JWC

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 12:02 PM

Ibsen and Stindberg - all those heavy Scandinavians

#4 richard

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 01:01 PM

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Interesting comment on Chekhov.  He does go on - even having seen Olivier/Redgrave etc, etc in the inaugural 1962 Chichester Festival production of Uncle Vanya, and the Jonathan Miller Three Sisters I am convinced that the only play in which he hit the absolute bull's eye was The Cherry Orchard.  This to my mind is the single greatest play of the 20th century and the 1961 RSC production with Gielgud and Ashcroft is the greatest theatrical experience I have ever had.  It was definitive perfection and heart rending.   'The Seagull' is his most over-rated play - predictable ending after 5 minutes.  Cinema blind spots - The Third Man and Citizen Kane.  Opera - most of Mozart, especially Figaro and Don Giovanni.   Janacek has been overpraised too.  All those perennially pretentious Jenufas.
As a corollary to Blind Spots, here are some bull's eyes:

Shakespeare - Hamlet, Othello, Coriolanus and Troilus and Cressida.  Goethe wrote 'If you want to see Shakespeare whole read Troilus and Cressida', and I never see it, without thinking it is Shakespeare's most astonishing creative achievement.  T.S. Eliot thought Coriolanus Shakespeare's 'most assured artistic success'.  There is a lot to be said for that view.
Sophocles - Oedipus Rex and Antigone
Ibsen - Ghosts

In fact the three most influential and historically important tragedies of Western drama are probably Oedipus Rex, Hamlet and Ghosts -  variations on a theme indeed.

Novel - Anna Karenina - numero uno every time


#5 foxa

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 06:49 PM

I share some of the above blind spots but not others!  The Tempest is actually one of mine as well.  I keep waiting for a production to convince me otherwise, but haven't seen one yet.  For some reason, it's frequently taught as a 'first' Shakespeare (probably because of the 'magical' elements) and it seems a disastrous choice to me because it is so cold and heartless.  Kids love romance, blood, violence, passion.  Weird old guys on islands and unfunny clowns? Not so much.  But I love King Lear - ungrateful children, sex, violence, bastards, facing the abyss - great stuff - except for the 'Poor Mad Tom'/ Edgar biz which I just have to blank out.

I agree about Volpone and, for that matter, The Alchemist, Epicene, all that lot.

I like the Scandinavians, within limits.

Long Day's Journey Into Night and most of Eugene O'Neill fall into other blind spots for me.  

And John Osbourne, including 'Look Back in Anger.'



#6 Lynette

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 07:43 PM

o come on, Hamlet ?? What with the sword fight and all?

#7 josh

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 09:03 PM

Waiting for Godot.
All Pinter. Ugh.
Ben Jonson.


All the Chekhov hating going on above me is making me very upset. sad.gif
He used to call me Blue Roses.

#8 Job

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 10:28 AM

David Mamet  angry.gif  angry.gif  angry.gif

Shakespeare: The Winter's Tale; Romeo & Juliet; Taming of the Shrew; Measure for Measure  angry.gif  angry.gif

and (excuse the bathos) anything by Agatha Christie  sad.gif

Job
(a fully paid-up Ibsen, Strindberg and Chekhov nut who also loves The Tempest and King Lear)


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#9 Lynette

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 03:28 AM

Measure for Measure!! Job, I'm amazed. This is one of the best and there have been some fine productions over the years. I won't go out of my way to see Romeo and Juliet because it is just too sad and reminds me of how badly we  so called grown ups have managed our world. The Taming of the Shrew always offers opportunities for new interpretations or ideas such as the one just now at the Old Vic. The Winter's Tale usually works on stage - the latest RSC is a good one. I suppose it looks like I'm trying to defend the whole canon so I'll stop there.

#10 M George

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 09:53 AM

Romeo and Juliet.  Can't stand it.  I have tortured myself three times (5 if you count 2 film versions) in the hope of recognising why this play has such enduring popularity, but each time I have been more bored than the previous.  What makes this play good?  Tell me someone because I do not see it!

Strindberg's 'A Dream Play' - I've been involved in two productions of this and I find it utterly boring.
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