Shakespeare’s Happy Endings" />

28
Nov 05

Shakespeare’s Happy Endings

Do You SeePost a comment • 262 views

I adored the National Theatre Of Brent’s laughably overambitious productions, with Jim Broadbent’s Wallace playing stooge to Patrick Barlow’s pompous twit Desmond Olivier Dingle, as the two of them tried to stage things a touch too large for them, such as the French Revolution. So I was quite excited to see a trailer for this new show, since it is presented by Barlow as a very similar character, Professor Simon Starkman.

It’s put on as a documentary about WS, presented by this new pompous twit – he opens with “Would a playwright by any other name smell as sweet? I don’t think so!” as if it’s a brilliant line. There are some great hopelessly awkward walking shots, the bane of so many shows of this kind. There are funny bits, beautifully written wrongnesses such as addressing Kevin Eldon (odd as ever) as WS with “William Shakespeare, I know you’re dead now, obviously, but if you were alive now, tell us how you’d be feeling, exactly, about what has happened to your work?”

The story being presented is the history of the differing interpretations and uses of the plays over the years, and the content is, as far as my far from expert mind can detect, largely truthful and not insubstantial, in showing how they were twisted into differing shapes to suit the age and the impressario. The trouble is, there is obvious nonsense as well, crass anachronism and ridiculous lines, the comedy approach of the dramatised documentary parts telling us that the show and presenter know nothing. This would be fine if it were just comedy, but it is hamstringing that part with the factual thread.

It also feels rather long. The comparisons here would be, in many ways, shows like People Like Us and The Office – and it is rare for any comedy show to get a full hour. It doesn’t seem to have quite enough ideas and gags to last really, though I find Barlow appealing enough to just about carry it through.

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