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Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  932 Ratings  ·  68 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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Community Reviews

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I attended a performance of this play last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a joint presentation of Handsome Alice (a feminist theatre troop) and The Shakespeare Company here in Calgary. There was a large contingent of high school students in the audience, and judging from their response, it was entertaining for them too.

I’m not a laugh-out-loud-in-the-theatre type of person, but these performers gave me no choice. Laughing had to happen. And yet there was a serious side to the play as we
Apr 04, 2007 Anne rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 22, 2015 Jill rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Wait is this a joke? Is liking this play a big in-joke with people who pat themselves on the back at their narrow interpretations and pedantic self-fellation? Oh no -- that's just literary academia in a nutshell.

To like this play, I feel you would have to have very little actual respect for Desdemona, Juliet, and the plays in question. You would also have to think the rest of the world outside the artistic/academic realm ~~~~doesn't get it~~ and that you are a prince/ss of literature tee hee hee
Amber Tucker
Dec 31, 2010 Amber Tucker rated it it was amazing
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
Serena.. Sery-ously?
Quest'opera è geniale!
"Cosa accadrebbe se Shakespeare avesse concepito Otello e Romeo e Giulietta come commedie?"
Ce lo spiega la MacDonald in questo libro, catapultando all'interno dei drammi Costanza, ricercatrice universitaria che cerca in tutti i modi di dimostrare che l'Othello e Romeo e Giulietta si siano trasformati in tragede a causa di un Fool perduto.
All'interno dei drammi, una serie di equivoci, di battute argute e di battute originali porteranno i personaggi delle vicende a mescolarsi
Nov 29, 2015 Phillip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
This is a really interesting adaptation of both Othello and Romeo and Juliet, along with a satire of academia, and a healthy dose of feminism into the mix. MacDonald's play tells the story of a struggling academic--archytypically both the absent minded professor and the junior female colleague exploited by a dashing older male colleague--who has tried to build a career on deciphering an obscure manuscript in alchemical symbols, which she believes is a source text for both Othello and Romeo and J ...more
Marlin Elina
Oct 25, 2015 Marlin Elina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, uni-books
Elizabeth Elwood
Mar 15, 2014 Elizabeth Elwood rated it it was amazing
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
May 13, 2014 Spencer Hamilton rated it really liked it
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
Jun 08, 2016 pseudostudent rated it really liked it
This short play is a reworking of Othello and Romeo & Juliet that benefits from being performed (or at least being read aloud). I reread both of the original Shakespeare plays beforehand for further context and enjoyment, but that wasn't necessary to understand MacDonald's reinterpretation, in which a bloodthirsty Desdemona, a necromanic Juliet, and a Serlingesque chorus accompany our protagonist's journey to discover the author of a mysterious text (view spoiler) ...more
Natalie Macdonald
Jan 11, 2016 Natalie Macdonald rated it did not like it
"Constance Ledbelly, a drab and dusty academic..." Very apt.
* * * * 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
Patty King
Mar 06, 2015 Patty King rated it it was amazing
I am definitely a fan of Ann-Marie MacDonald. I have read all her fiction which I enjoy greatly, however, her plays are fabulous. Her fiction is challenging emotionally, somewhat dark and yet hopeful. She writes about family and people living difficult lives. Her plays, on the other hand, are fantasy and fun and fantastically humorous. Read the plays and if you get the opportunity to see them performed on stage go see them and enjoy.
Sep 26, 2014 Omama rated it liked it
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.
Nathan Burgoine
Jun 06, 2015 Nathan Burgoine rated it it was amazing
Imagine trying to encapsulate some of the wonderful diversity of Canadian authors in play format with the purchase of just two or three plays. Not easy. But this was my third (and final) choice of three, and I think that together they paint a nice picture of just how varied (and strange) we Canadians are. It shall head overseas to a friend.

I had completely forgotten how much I loved this play. I nabbed it for my pal because it contains Iago in it (inside joke), and a very fun take on re-making S
Oct 31, 2015 Razan rated it really liked it
Wow, okay so where do I even start? Did I find the book funny? I mean yeah, sort of, there were some funny parts in it that I couldn't help but stifle a laugh. However, I felt as though the book overall was just straight up weird....that being said, time to go write a 6 page esaay on fun fun!
Jul 21, 2014 Lisa rated it it was ok
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.
May 07, 2012 Erin rated it it was amazing
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
Carol-Anne Nielson
Jul 06, 2014 Carol-Anne Nielson rated it liked it

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.
Jan 23, 2014 Darlene rated it it was amazing
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.
Marina Quattrocchi
May 25, 2016 Marina Quattrocchi rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! On the surface this is a wonderful comedy and satire of Othello and Romeo and Juliet. But below the surface it's an intelligent and witty take on symbolism, dreams, alchemy and the unconscious. Would love to see this performed on stage.
Lilly Marie Amenson
Dec 24, 2015 Lilly Marie Amenson rated it really liked it
I really liked this play. We will be performing it come January and it is full of comedic and clever working that will surly lend to a great show.
Elise G
Mar 02, 2014 Elise G rated it it was amazing
Clever, warm, and bursting with affection for Shakespeare's characters and the joy of creative transformation.
Nov 18, 2015 Evelyn rated it liked it
A quick witty read.
Omama Osman
Apr 25, 2015 Omama Osman rated it liked it
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.
Jan 18, 2013 Kim rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer, fun-read, canadian
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.
Apr 24, 2015 Brian rated it it was amazing
Smart and funny! I'd love to see it staged. MacDonald never disappoints.
Taryne Rhedey
Feb 05, 2013 Taryne Rhedey rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 10, 2016 Jules rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama, wishlist
For those who have ever dreamt of re-writing Shakespeare, here comes a play to inspire those destructive and creative impulses. Anti-Stratfordians will appreciate this, as will feminists and those interested in gender and queer theory. Literature can be re-written! We are not all smothered Desdemonas and dead Juliets. There is a lot to ponder here.
Jul 16, 2012 Alicia rated it it was amazing
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.
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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'
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