I'm not going to lie. After reading this book, I'm a little bit in love with Sir Thomas More.
You can't help it after reading Robert Bolt's play, thou...moreI'm not going to lie. After reading this book, I'm a little bit in love with Sir Thomas More.
You can't help it after reading Robert Bolt's play, though. He's so witty and charming and kind and gentle, yet so passionately certain of what is right and wrong and what things are worth dying for. King Henry VIII is such a great character in this play, such an overly-jovial spoiled baby, that More looks even more noble by comparison. (In my head I picture him looking a little bit like Clark Kent. I don't know why.)
Bolt's preface to the play, talking about how he came to choose this particular subject matter when he's not even really a Christian, is almost as interesting and compelling as the play itself; he describes how he came to More with an outsider's eye and without really being able to believe in what More believed, he was still struck by the firmness of More's commitment to stand by the oath he swore, even knowing that it meant death at the hands of the King who was once his best friend.
This play has one of the best courtroom scenes in all of modern drama, rivaling anything in "Twelve Angry Men."(less)
I'm really only reviewing "Carthaginians" but I couldn't find an edition of just that play by itself. Anyway, "Carthaginians" is a fabulous play . . ....moreI'm really only reviewing "Carthaginians" but I couldn't find an edition of just that play by itself. Anyway, "Carthaginians" is a fabulous play . . . only Frank McGuiness could write such an accessible story about a group of Irish misfits camped out in a graveyard on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, waiting for the dead to rise. Led by a fearless drag queen called Dido, these troubled, funny and realistic characters argue and share their stories and connect in this dark, passionate and quintessentially Irish play. A beautiful, beautiful story.(less)
"Someone Who'll Watch Over Me" is one of the best war plays ever written. This haunting, heartbreaking, and funny work tells the story of an American,...more"Someone Who'll Watch Over Me" is one of the best war plays ever written. This haunting, heartbreaking, and funny work tells the story of an American, an Englishman and an Irishman trapped in a Middle Eastern prison cell together. (Which totally sounds like the beginning of a racist joke.) This play is so beautiful and sad and the scene where the English guy and the Irish guy argue about what really caused the Famine is just hilarious. Everything about this play is brilliant.(less)
As a theater major, I've spent an enormous chunk of my life reading and analyzing classical drama. There was a time when I could have broken down for...moreAs a theater major, I've spent an enormous chunk of my life reading and analyzing classical drama. There was a time when I could have broken down for you in great detail the stylistic differences between the three great Greek dramatists (Aeschylus, Sophocles & Euripides) and the great Greek comic playwright Aristophanes. But since I no longer have to, I won't.
I will say that I never took to the other two like I did to Euripides. He was the latest of the three, a product of an evolving social concept of the role of theater - instead of making proclamations at the audience, characters had conversations with each other. The language is simpler and less formal, a forerunner to modern drama, and the characters far more human.
I fell in love with this play because of how beautifully it depicts loss and grief. The characters are so vibrant and real, and their suffering so clearly depicted, that you forget you're reading something that's like 2500 years old. Even in the crappiest of translations, you feel like these characters are real people that you know, and your heart aches for the horrific things that have happened to them and the bleak gray future ahead of them.
The best moment of the whole play to me is a very brief exchange between Hecuba (former queen of Troy, whose husband and sons have all been murdered) and Menelaus (husband of Helen and one of the two Greek kings who led the war against Troy). They are bitter, violent enemies who hate each other and each other's people with a passion that will have consequences for generations. But in this one fleeting moment when Menelaus passes Hecuba on his way back to his ship, dragging Helen with her, they have a moment of connection in their anger towards Helen, who started the whole thing and is responsible for setting in motion the events that led to a ten-year siege and thousands of deaths on both sides. In that moment, as they realize that they both hate Helen more than each other, there's just a sliver of a hint at compassion on both sides, a realization that even though they're enemies, they understand the other's pain in a way that no one else does. Then the moment passes and they're enemies again, but that one moment changes the entire play for me. Gorgeous, heartbreaking stuff.
I also recommend "Medea", "The Bacchae" and "Iphegenia at Aulis." (less)