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It's a matter of convention, of course, but I tend to find the scenes with Shakespearean fools rather jarring to the course of the play. It can be done well, of course, but it was an intervention that perhaps worked much better in Elizabethan theatrical idiom than it does now. Romeo and Juliet, for instance, has two comic relief minor characters: the illiterate clown who accidentally invites Romeo to the Capulets' ball, and Peter, Juliet's nurse's servant. Neither really works for me. (The nurse herself, of course, may be a clown, but I think she's a different sort of entity.)

There's one glorious clown figure, however, who in the hands of a good actor can completely steal the show in a play ostensibly about other people. He bosses his friends around, and when he wakes up to find that a woman of unearthly beauty has become fascinated by him, he takes it as no more than his due. He also has the same first name as I do. I speak, of course, of Nick Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream, that odd play which starts off abut two young aristocratic couples and ends up with fairies, amateur theatricals, and a manifestation of the divine. The humorous and farcical aspects of the plot are pretty timeless (none of the incomprehensible wordplay scenes of, say, Love's Labour's Lost). And Bottom stands out as the most vivid character of the lot - the guy in the club who thinks the whole thing revolves around him, and because he thinks so it has largely become true. Of all Shakespeare's fools, he is the one who I feel is best integrated into the plot and perhaps says the most interesting things, without meaning to, about us human beings.

Here's a very glamorous Judi Dench as Titania, in love with Ian Richardson as Bottom in 1968:



The 30 days:
Day #1: Your favourite play
Day #2: Your favourite character
Day #3: Your favourite hero
Day #4: Your favourite heroine
Day #5: Your favourite villain
Day #6: Your favourite villainess
Day #7: Your favourite clown
Day #8: Your favourite comedy
Day #9: Your favourite tragedy
Day #10: Your favourite history
Day #11: Your least favourite play
Day #12: Your favourite scene
Day #13: Your favourite romantic scene
Day #14: Your favourite fight scene
Day #15: The first play you read
Day #16: Your first play you saw
Day #17: Your favourite speech
Day #18: Your favourite dialogue
Day #19: Your favourite movie version of a play
Day #20: Your favourite movie adaptation of a play
Day #21: An overrated play
Day #22: An underrated play
Day #23: A role you've never played but would love to play
Day #24: An actor or actress you would love to see in a particular role
Day #25: Sooner or later, everyone has to choose: Hal or Falstaff?
Day #26: Your favourite couple
Day #27: Your favourite couplet
Day #28: Your favourite joke
Day #29: Your favourite sonnet
Day #30: Your favourite single line

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
saare_snowqueen
Apr. 26th, 2016 07:13 am (UTC)
LJ tells me it's your birthday today. That being the case, hope your day is fun and productive.
Martha
trepkos
Apr. 26th, 2016 05:12 pm (UTC)
Her scene as Titania on the BBC thing the other night was pretty fine!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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