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On the Blogs: Wherefore Shakespeare, RSC NYC, Sharif lives to play Lear

By February 19, 2010 No Comments

Shakespeare finds his defenders and detractors on the web this week. On the attack is the Plastic Mancunian, arguing that Shakespeare isĀ overrated. The main piece of evidence seems to be the voluminous notes provided by the Shakespeare industry.

In fact, when I was at school I distinctly recall reading a Shakespeare play in a book that was 15% introduction, 30% play and 55% explanation of what the hell was going on.

As part of that industry, I can only apologize for the prolixity and refer the Plastic Mancunian to our own Six Word Shakespeare. Nevertheless, it was heartening to find an antidote from Ray Harvey. Not afraid to bring out the big guns, we get Nabokov advancing a defense on the grounds of metaphorical ability and Harold Bloom asking all the right questions.

Shakespeare of an English variety seems to have set bloggers afire in the US with the British RSC’s plan to stage five shows in New York next year. As reported in on the Guardian‘s theatre blog, some would like the RSC to be permanently resident to combat a (scarcely believable) Shakespeare dearth in the city. Others, including Leonard Jacobs at the Clyde Fitch Report, disagree, and point us to independent theater. Call me a cynic but it’s economics: the RSC’s temporary sojourn will supplement the RSC’s grant (cut or at a standstill) from the UK government, and which Mayor Bloomberg would be unlikely to match were the institution there en permanence. So despite the cynicism, lucky RSC. And lucky NYC.

Finally, in what I feel we can agree is good news, I learned from Mad Shakespeare that cinema-goers (that would be worldwide), can look forward not only to a big screen production of Lear, but also that none other than Omar Sharif will be in the title role. Great news because Lear is so rarely adapted for film, but also I thought Sharif had gone the way of all fat kings and lean beggars. Apologies, Mr Sharif. The adaptation will be undertaken by the Egyptian writer, Khaled Al Khamiss, and will be set in modern-day Egypt.

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