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Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)
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Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  696 ratings  ·  53 reviews
In this exuberant comedy, MacDonald asks, What if Desdemona and Juliet were allowed to live? Constance Ledbelly, a tweedy academic, has ghostwritten the papers of her mentor for years, when suddenly he announces he's marrying a rival. Escaping into her research, Constance decodes the Gustav Manuscript, and discovers a pair of comedies that she believes are the source for S ...more
Paperback, 88 pages
Published September 8th 1998 by Grove Press (first published May 1st 1997)
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Anne
Yes, yes, yes. We ALL KNOW I wrote my undergraduate thesis on this play. Well guess what?! READ IT. Even though (spoiler alert!) I proved in my thesis (nerd!) that the basic argument of MacDonald's protagonist - that "Othello" and "Romeo and Juliet" would have been comedies if Shakespeare had included a Wise Fool character to foil the trajectories of the title characters - is never effectively proved by the play, it's a freaking good time to read any way, and is structured PERFECTLY as a Shakesp ...more
Amber Tucker
Dec 31, 2010 Amber Tucker rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Drama people, Shakespeare fans, Canadian lit afficianados
Recommended to Amber by: Dr. Nichols' reading list
Goodnight Desdemona, o'er all others
Did not fail this reader to impress.
Even Shakespeare's characters could not
Leap off the page the way MacDonald's do,
Though hers are take-offs on th' originals.
Even Shakespeare's verse has not endured
So well that I did not find hers more fresh.
The meeting of her world and the Bard's!
The call to revere him, though she dares adapt,
Truly I believe is answered well.
Playfully done, and with true art accomplished.
(I would go on, but pure awe shuts me up.)
Hear m
...more
Elizabeth Elwood
When, years ago, I sat through my Shakespeare class at UBC, I remember youthfully railing at the annoying twists of fate in Romeo and Juliet. The play, as our textbook described it, was “a succession of unlucky mischances”, and it was always tempting to think what might have happened if any one of the accidents of fate had been averted. Equally frustrating was Othello’s obtuseness which allowed his envious ensign to ruin an otherwise happy marriage. I never thought that all these years later I’d ...more
Spencer Hamilton
Goodnight Desdemona is a very good play. Although I have not read all of it (but I have seen the play), I really do enjoy the comedy that is integrated throughout the play. Macdonald combines wit and subtle humour to really make me laugh, and she integrates Shakespeare’s own words perfectly. I also enjoy the shift in perception of characters such as Desdemona and Juliet. They are very different from the original play that Shakespeare wrote, and I think this not only has more humor to the play, b ...more
rabbitprincess
* * * * 1/2

A wild, wonderful ride through two of Shakespeare's noted tragedies, with a modern twist, some hilarious slapstick, and even a bit of self-discovery. The protagonist is Constance Ledbelly, an English professor at Queen's working toward her PhD, which focuses on an encoded manuscript that she believes to be the original source of Othello and Romeo and Juliet. She ends up landing her own role in these two plays, altering them significantly and learning about herself along the way.

This p
...more
Omama
A story about our authorship over our own lives, about finding one's self, about getting support form inside and not from outside, about developing a balanced personality. Constance/Constantine goes on a thrilling journey in two Shakespearian plays (Romeo and Juliet & Othello) to teach us that there is a thin line (literally as well as metaphorically) between tragedy and comedy. Ourselves and only ourselves could choose which side our ends will take.
Lisa
I'm keen to see this done as a production, but I was not entirely sold on the script. Some of it seemed silly and hokey, but other parts were really interesting and I'd like to see them flushed out on stage. As always, though, you can't judge a play just by reading it. Most of it is in the performance.
Erin
May 07, 2012 Erin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: plays
I LOVED THIS PLAY! Sadly, I find it very hard to read Canadian drama that doesn't make me bored. I know, unpopular opinion. But I loved this one. I don't think I've ever laughed so much in my life. The basic premise is so out there and uncommon, but it works. I love Constance's interactions with Desdemona and Juliet like she's known them for years - which, in theory, she has.
The writing is beautiful, the characters are believable. Ann-Marie MacDonald is capable of keeping the reader enthralled u
...more
Carol-Anne Nielson

A cute play. It's good at injecting some political bite from a feminist perspective into a lighthearted story of a woman living in the shadow of her (male) mentor.
Darlene
fun a clever read where the main charcter in present time, a queen's university under-Prof. , at one point had both juliet and romeo falling madly in love with her and competing for her love..all because this writer is determined to change this tragedy and othello's tragedy into a comedy..and of course she succeeds.
Elise Gowen
Clever, warm, and bursting with affection for Shakespeare's characters and the joy of creative transformation.
Kim
I was surprised by the humour of this book. The only other work I've read by Ann-Marie MacDonald was the brilliant (but not funny) "Fall On Your Knees", so finding myself boisterously laughing at the antics in her twist on Shakespeare was strange. Well worth the time to sit down and read all in one go, even if it is a tad strange to read a play by yourself. Reading this out loud caused my roommate to give me a few odd looks, but it was well worth it.
Taryne Rhedey
Anyone who has read Othello and Romeo and Juliet must read this play. Constance is writing her doctorate thesis on the idea that both plays could have easily morphed into comedies instead of tragedies with the insertion of a Wise Fool. Little does she know how her postulations will change these two plays and drastically change the way we view two of Shakespeare's most tragic female leads.
Alicia
Jul 16, 2012 Alicia rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
The only thing better than reading this book was seeing it performed on stage! There's a quiet humour and subtle realism beneath the fantastic threads of Shakespearian brilliance that I couldn't help but fall I. Love with this book!
You don't have to have read either of Shakespeare's plays to understand this, though I'm sure it helps it's not necessary.
Adam
May 25, 2014 Adam added it
Do you like Shakespeare and clever books and smart ladies? This is a good book for you, if yes.
Elisa Hategan
This is pure, unadulterated genius.
I was assigned this book back in university, before Fall on Your Knees came out, and after reading it, twice over in one night, I went around preaching to everyone about this incredible new writer by the name of Ann-Marie Macdonald. You could say I was one of her early adapters :)
Niya B
A fluid piece, with excellent concepts and a wonderfully strong cast of characters that any english student should recognize woven through with lessons on love, finding the self, and trusting pattern and archetypal signs. The only thing that would make it better would be to see it performed.
Peter
Ann-Marie MacDonald's re-telling of the story of Romeo and Julliet is witty, subversive and a joy to read, and even more fun to watch performed on stage. Reading plays is a strange joy and one I plan on doing more often.
Adam Hegg
I read this in mind of production. I will do this show with my students in coming years, just not yet, Kiss Me Kate is enough of a shakespeare play while not being a shakespeare play for these kids to deal with in one season.
Laura
A terribly enjoyable comedy about a Queen's professor who falls into the worlds of Othello and Romeo & Juliet, and turns both stories on their heads. I rarely enjoy reading plays but this one had me by the end of page 1.
Kristin
I read this for book club. Interesting to read a play for a change, but I think I'll appreciate watching the show even more. There were some very funny moments, but I'm sure there was symbolism that went over my head.
Elaine
An English professor is so steeped in proving the theories of her Ph.d thesis that she becomes involved in the action of Shakespeare's plays. Hilarious, but will be difficult to read aloud to my play-reading group.
Michelle Lynne Widmann
I thought the idea of a Shakespearean mash-up was a great way to test the ideas of fate and explore the issue of feminism, not to mention a lovely mash-up between styles of language. A very entertaining read!
Korri
This was a charming play featuring a ferocious Desdemona & an in-love-with-love Juliet we haven't seen before, a quest for the self, and a revision of Shakespeare's canonical plays.
Wendell Hennan
gave up, Shakespeare never was a favourite and neither was Desdemona
Celise
Maybe I'm not one to judge this book because I know very little of theater, so I will simply say it was an entertaining read even if I didn't quite like it.
Meg
I admire this play for its concept and its baudiness does fit Shakespeare's world. But I still found it too fragmented and shallow to want to perform.
Kelly
A light read. A funny and smart satire on Shakespeare.
I want Ann-Marie MacDonald to come up with a NEW NOVEL, though.
Ak
A few genuine laugh-out-loud moments (especially liked Constance's "Who's on first?"-esque initial encounter with the Ghost).
Laura
Disappointing. I love Ann-Marie MacDonald's novels, but this turned out to be simultaneously dense and cloying. Blah.
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Ann-Marie MacDonald is a Canadian playwright, novelist, actor and broadcast journalist who lives in Toronto, Ontario. The daughter of a member of Canada's military, she was born at an air force base near Baden-Baden, West Germany.

MacDonald won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for her first novel, Fall on Your Knees, which was also named to Oprah Winfrey's Book Club.

She received the Governor General'
...more
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