Thursday, 22 August 2019

Fools and Mortals.

Alas, poor Richard Shakespeare, we knew him not at all. So said no-one in particular, ever. Consider the plight of the less talented sibling, in any situation where ones chosen profession causes brothers to bounce off each other, flashing past each other on a sliding scale of abilities and station. What it must be like to try making a living while living in the shadow of that sibling. Then factor into that uneasy balancing act the very notion that one of the brothers is the most talented playwright ever to dip his quill, so to speak.
           Richard Shakespeare is a young player eager to demonstrate to the world his abilities and charms as a leading male who finds himself continually confounded in this ambition by his creatively brilliant but emotionally mercurial brother in a succession of female roles. He wishes to play a man while his brother will only cast him as a woman. This is not an unusual a situation as it may sound to the modern ear as women were forbidden to perform on the stage during the Elizabethan era. So many a young man donned female apparel as their youth allowed them an easy androgyny. As Richard grew older he felt less comfortable in the roles, longing for tyhe part of the handsome lead. a longing thwarted by the will and wit of his brother Will.
            Bernard Cornwell the Elizabethan era to life, one can almost smell how unsanitary the great city of London is. It must have reeked like a huge open air sewage treatment works as all the human and animal waste was going nowhere. In the absence of an understanding of sanitation ghosts, spirits and devils were credited to a large degree for the resulting miasma. Thirsty people are poisoned by the very water they use to assuage their thirst, every home harbors potential risks to health and yet for all this it is a progressive age, particularly for the arts. painting, poetry, printing and performing boomed.With a rich vein of belief in the supernatural and the superstitious running through all. This was truly the era of The Faerie Queen.
             This was also a time that when a person looked to the skies over head they saw a sea of stars, with no world wide ground based grid of man made illumination to dull such vision. Small wonder beliefs ran to the wondrous with a canopy of twinkling stars so visible above.
              William Shakespeare has been commissioned to perform a new play for a private audience. A Midsummer Nights Dream will be seen for the first time and Richard has been assured a part, a man's role, a part he has made no secret of his longing for, and his brother has been listening. In that way that only a genius does as Richard will learn as the players come together to rehearse.
               Bravo to Bernard Cornwell for this very entertaining read. He understands the complexities of brotherhood and the pain that runs deep when siblings seek to offend.
               Dare I say it?
               Why the hell not...
                Encore, author, Encore!