A Different Kind of Shakespeare

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Title: Fool

Rating: 4 Stars

I’m not sure why I haven’t read this before. I’m a huge fan of Shakespeare, specifically King Lear and I enjoy the absurdist fiction of Christopher Moore.

It’s the story of King Lear (kind of), told from the point of view the Fool. It was an entertaining twist. Moore captured the wit of the Fool splendidly. It was a silly romp of a read that, as a fan of both, was almost designed to be entertaining to me, and it was.

All of the characters: King Lear, Goneril, Regan, Cordelia, Gloucester, Edgar, and Edmund are all here, true in spirit as Shakespeare created them, but slightly bent to meet the comic needs of Moore.

I came to Shakespeare relatively late. As is typical of most people, I had to read him in high school (Romeo and Juliet, yawn) and I found the language inaccessible.

Fast forward and I’m somewhere in my early to mid twenties. For some reason, the movie Ran was on PBS. Now, I don’t even watch PBS. I really am not a fan of foreign subtitled movies. However, I’d remember reading about the movie Ran and about how it was Kurosawa’s masterpiece and one of the best films of all time.

OK, I think to myself. I’ll watch it for about ten minutes or so to get the basic idea and then I’ll move on to something else. Two and half hours later, I was still enthralled. It just gripped me and never let me go the entire time, and to this day, I’m not really sure why. I haven’t seen it since. I see that it is playing at the Uptown in a couple of weeks. I plan to re-watch it to see if that night was a fluke or if there is magic there.

I knew that Ran was based on King Lear. Watching Ran inspired me to read Lear. With the benefit of age and reading experience, I allowed myself to be caught up in King Lear’s madness and rage. By now, I’ve read it at least four or five times and I’ve seen it acted at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Reading King Lear led me on to his other major tragedies and then later the rest of his work. Now it’s reached the point where I have gone to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival pretty much every year for the last five or so years. I’ve been to The Globe in London and am making tentative plans to visit to catch a play there.

One of my most memorable experiences (at Ashland) is watching the play Throne of Blood. It is a theatrical version of a movie (again by Kurosawa, again a masterpiece) that was itself based upon Shakespeare’s MacBeth.

So, to sum up, at a Shakespearean festival, I saw a play that was based upon a Japanese samurai movie that was itself based upon a Shakespearean play.  If there is a movie based upon that play I think that’d be close to the plot of Inception.

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