As I hear December 7th’s velveteen footsteps creep nearer and nearer with each passing minute, my Shakespeare endeavors are becoming more fervent than ever.
December 7th is when I shall gladly perch myself upon a (hopefully) cushioned balcony seat in the Belasco Theatre for a performance of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (which I plan on reading beforehand). That very performance shall be graced by the divine presence of a man named Stephen Fry.
The Stephen Fry. He’s not only an infinitely knowledgeable Shakespeare aficionado with an unbeatable cultural record of awesomeness, but my paragon of perpetual praise. And on December 7th, I shall most likely be seen shivering not from the winter cold, but from excessive heart-pounding and nerve-quaking as my eyes bear witness to the very man I consider an idol.
But, I’ll reserve all of my flailing Stephen Fry fangirling for Twelfth Night. The purpose of this post is to share and review his reading of Shakespeare’s iconic Sonnet 130.
Unlike the theatrical predecessors that have failed to do so before, Stephen Fry recites Sonnet 130 the way it was meant to be, complete with romantic discord in lines 1-12 and tender, honey-toned vocals near the very end.
William Shakespeare has immortalized this unnamed “mistress” of whom the sonnet addresses by romanticizing the surpassing nature which puts her dull appearance to shame. An arranged marriage to this mistress, this may have been (yes, another one of my relentless theories), or a long-winded and tiring union that has tarnished her youthful glow and stamina (“my mistress when she walks treads on the ground”). But, the love for this woman does not appear to be stale, unlike her deteriorating beauty, for Shakespeare loves to “hear her speak”, while knowing that music “hath a far more pleasing sound” (again, referring back to the superiority of nature’s beauty).
In the end, the mistress whom this sonnet addresses is apparently not deprived of affection by her lover (“And yet by heaven I think my love as rare, as any she belied as false compare”), but sadly lacks a mutual amour.