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David Tennant as Berowne

The Plays We Overlook: Love’s Labour’s Lost

The Plays We Overlook: Love’s Labour’s Lost By James Cappio Why isn’t Love’s Labour’s Lost more popular? Perhaps this “feast of language” is a surfeit for some. Where A Midsummer Night’s Dream has but two romantic couples, Love’s Labour’s Lost has four, plus a love triangle. Where Much Ado About Nothing has but Dogberry and […]

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Falstaff Besieged by Fairies

The Plays We Overlook: The Merry Wives of Windsor

The Plays We Overlook: The Merry Wives of Windsor By James Cappio Overshadowed by the two parts of Henry IV, The Merry Wives of Windsor starts off unpromisingly. Writers’ manuals always warn fledgling writers not to represent speakers’ accents phonetically. Merry Wives demonstrates that even Shakespeare should heed this advice. His Welsh character, Parson Evans, […]

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The Plays We Overlook: The Two Noble Kinsmen

The Plays We Overlook: The Two Noble Kinsmen By James Cappio Is there any play in the canon less known than The Two Noble Kinsmen? And not just because of what Moe the bartender did to the manuscript in The Simpsons (see illustration). There it is on the title page of the 1634 quarto: “The […]

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Two Gents

The Plays We Overlook: The Two Gentlemen of Verona

The Two Gentlemen of Verona is Shakespeare’s bromance. Gentlemen only in the sense that they don’t have to work for a living, Valentine and Proteus are buddies no mere woman can separate. It’s unquestionably very early Shakespeare—a “laboratory,” as the Oxford Shakespeare editors put it, for a plethora of ideas used more successfully in later […]

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Ian Richardson as Bertram

The Plays We Overlook: All’s Well That Ends Well

Of the three “problem plays,” Troilus and Cressida and Measure for Measure, with their dark cynicism about sex and politics, seem finally to be coming into their own in our darkly cynical time. Not so All’s Well That Ends Well. All’s Well has been called the comic version of Coriolanus; if nothing else, these are […]

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Ian Richardson as Francis Urquhart

If Richard III Had Married Lady Macbeth: The Shakespearean Pedigree of House of Cards

With the Americanised remake of House of Cards now available on Netflix (at least in the United States), it’s a good time to revisit the original and to recall how it is shot through with Shakespeare. House of Cards is the story of Francis Urquhart, Chief Whip of the Conservative Party who, denied a Cabinet […]

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Photo:by Roger Tooth, The Guardian

The Plays We Overlook: Timon of Athens

If I were to ask you about Timon of Athens you would probably say one or more of three things: (1) It’s generally believed to be a collaboration between Shakespeare and Thomas Middleton; (2) It’s quoted by Karl Marx; (3) Unlike Karl Marx, you have never read it or seen it performed. If (3) is […]

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The Plays We Overlook: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

Pericles has a claim to be Shakespeare’s most overlooked play. Nonprofessional Shakespeareans are likely never to have seen, read, or even heard of it. It is among the last plays to have entered the canon. The text is notoriously corrupt. And the consensus that it is a collaboration is among the firmest for any of […]

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image by Emma Vieceli of the dig for Richard's remains

The Plays We Overlook: Henry VI, Part Three

The discovery of skeletal remains in a Leicester car park that may be those of King Richard III makes a new view of King Henry VI Part Three especially timely. For this is the play in which Richard comes on like an express train. The first words of Richard III are deservedly among the most […]

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