Shakespeare: Bottom 5

Posted: May 2, 2013 by Micah in Randomnicity
Tags: , , , , ,

Hey internet, you know as the world turns now to a new season I am confronted once more with the fleeting nature of our lives. Here we are today and tomorrow who knows where we could be: Ticonderoga or (dare we say it) Pittsburgh. Seasons change, channels surf, and we are but spectators watching the world flit by like tiny Japanese children having epileptic seizures because of Pokemon. In this time of change, of revolution, of one thing becoming another I have been motivated to emulate the world around us and do something totally different from what I said I was going to do!! Some would call this “breaking a promise” or (to a lesser extent) “gross irresponsibility” but I prefer to think of it more along the lines of “communing with nature.” See how much better that sounded?

Someone PM’d me yesterday (that stands for Personal Message and/or Pickle maker (it’s a context thing)) and asked what my five favorite Shakespeare plays were. This (as it oft does) set me to thinking, and as I thought I reflected upon answering both that question and the question that sprang up like an ugly older sister at a hot girls house: what are my five least favorite Shakespeare plays? And so taking a break from my summer questions blog that was relevant and cool and upped my readership, I’m gonna talk about Shakespeare something that no one can relate too and that will probably force certain of my readers to light their monitors on fire!

Yay journalism.

Micah’s Shakespeare Bottom 5

Two quick things: first, as is my general policy, these are the five worst Shakespeare plays I have actually seen/read. I’m sure there are worse ones out there that I haven’t read because they’re terrible, but I’m not going to talk about those ones. So there. Thing 2: What I’m about to say is in no way a negative reflection on certain productions I may have seen. I’m reviewing the plays here so don’t be offended if I talk about something you were in, it’s a pure coincidence (except for you Bobbert. You sucked.) And as a special bonus thing: let me say that Shakespeare is awesome. My wife makes fun of me cause oh how much I like Shakespeare, that said even Shakespeare had bad days, and here are five of them listed in descending order from least-worst to worst-worst to brat-wurst.

5. Taming of the Shrew

Here’s a great example of me not making fun of specific productions! I’ve actually been IN two different versions of Taming of the Shrew, and had a blast working on both of them with some super talented people. That said: I’m not really a huge fan of the play. It’s just… weird. I actually kind of like the Shrew better at the beginning of the play when she’s smart and funny rather then at the end of the play when she’s sort of… bleh. And he mostly just tames her through food deprivation and what could only be described as: mild psychological abuse. Plus there’s about twenty minutes worth of weird “stinger” dialogue that takes sexual innuendo to creepy new lengths AND the fact that the play is actually a play within a play for reasons that no one has ever fully explained to me. This scene is almost ALWAYS cut out of staged adaptations of Taming of the Shrew because Director’s have no idea what it’s going there.

Plus, have you seen Shrews? They're mostly just adorable, and I wouldn't think that hard to tame.

Also, have you seen Shrews? They’re mostly just adorable, and I wouldn’t think that hard to tame.

Number 5 was a toss up for me between this and The Tempest (don’t get me started) but Taming edged it out just cause Tempest is at least philosophically interesting (at times) and sort of funny (when it’s not busy being completely nonsensical) whereas Taming mostly just really wants to be funny and screams a lot.

4. Romeo and Juliet:

This play used to rank a lot higher on the list but I recently decided that Shakespeare was actually making fun of Romeo and Juliet over the course of this play. Then again that’s like saying Amanda Seyfried is making an ironic statement on bad acting in her movies, it doesn’t exactly make them good movies. Romeo and Juliet is (at it’s core) a play about a moron and a girl who falls in love with him for reasons no one is ever clear on… sort of like my marriage, but with more poison.

I’ve seen a lot of renditions of this play and none of them have made me like it any more, or made me think that Romeo is any less of an idiot. I like Juliet, Juliet is fine, she just has all the taste of an 80 year old melon.

3. A Midsummer Nights Dream

I really think Shakespeare just took a ton of ideas that he wasn’t sure what to do with and decided to jam them all into one play. I mean there’s a character named Bottom who gets turned into some kind of weird reverse centaur, and then a hot girl falls in love with him because a fairy does something for reasons that are only ever known to the fairy. If you think Shakespeare is like latin then A Midsummer’s Night Dream is like trying to understand Latin as spoken by a grape. I’ve read this play like… four times, seen it once, and been lectured on it for a week and I STILL have no idea what it’s actually about. There’s some kind of metaphor for love and licorice and the gross domestic product buried in there somewhere, probably next to the avalanche of butt jokes.

No... yeah... that ummm... that's a great idea Shakespeare. Donkey's head... yeah. You go for that.

No… yeah… that ummm… that’s a great idea Shakespeare. Donkey’s head… yeah. You go for that.

2. Richard III

Richard the 3rd is a story about a terrible person who does terrible things to mostly terrible people and then is stabbed. Yay. Here’s the thing: Hamlet is a sad play, but it’s not ABOUT the sad stuff. There’s other things going on and redemption and sacrifice and questions about humanity and what it means to be alive; Richard the 3rd is mostly just about death, blood, and people marrying close relatives (and then murdering them.) And you don’t even really care about the people who get murdered, in fact you sort of like Richard because at least he’s killing the people that you already didn’t like anyway. Everyone else in the play just sort of stands around and makes speeches and then wanders off to die while they desperately try and get in another few lines of meaningless dialogue.

And even THEN, all of the murdered people feel it necessary to come back as ghosts and deliver one more lengthy monologue before the actors playing them are strangled by their own vocal chords.

Then when the “good guy” comes riding in about three-fourths of the way through the play he turns out to be the speechiest person yet. The sort of person who feels it necessary to deliver a lengthy diatribe on the mintyness of his toothpaste before proceeding to brush. I genuinely root for Richard in the final battle just so that someone will shut-up good prince Goodington or whatever.

1. The Winters Tale

Ah, at last, the grand summarization of long bland speeches and completely nonsensical story telling. The ultimate in “Shakespeare having one too many the night before he wrote this”-ness. Winters Tale. Allow me (ever so briefly) to summarize the story of Winters Tale in the shortest way I know how.

Once there was a king who was friends with a king and then… a woman. And then something about an illegitimate child who wasn’t really illegitimate but who the King thinks is illegitimate because he’s jealous of the other guy who is also a King of somewhere else. Then some person dies of sadness… and the King who had a baby but didn’t think he had a baby realizes it was his baby, but by that point the mother of his baby (who he didn’t think was his baby) has been carried off by someone unrelated to his baby and now he thinks the mother and the baby (his baby) are dead.

"Okay so... everyone who has any idea what's going on. Raise your hand?... yeah... that's what I thought."

“Okay so… everyone who has any idea what’s going on. Raise your hand?… yeah… that’s what I thought.”

Then…. ummm… a guy with a baby (probably the King’s baby but at this point who cares) is shipwrecked and (in  my favorite part of the play) eaten by a bear. Then that baby is adopted by a Shepherd and many years later she (The baby) falls in love with the son of the King whose baby she wasn’t (fortunately). At this point some things happen and after many many pages of dialogue everyone (regardless of who will watch the sheep) leaves for the original kingdom where King BabyDaddy is still angry at himself for expelling his wife and baby (now no longer a baby but in love with the son of the guy who he thought was her father but who wasn’t) they all get together and in the end (after a LONG LONG LOOOOOONG speech) a statue is brought to life and it turns out that the mom of the baby has just been hiding from the father for all these years despite the fact that he was INSTANTLY repentant and has spent the last who knows how many years torturing himself for her murder. YAY! Happy!


Pictured: The best character in The Winter's Tale.

Pictured: The best character in The Winter’s Tale.

And that’s just the short version. If you have 4-5 hours and feel like diving head first into a bowl of mental whipped cream and thumbtacks feel free to check out the long version!

So there you have it. The bottom 5. English Teachers before you start throwing things at the screen, yes I am fully aware that Shakespeare was a MUCH better writer then me. Come back Monday and read the top 5 as I write what will be basically a 1500 word love letter to the man. I’m not saying these are terrible plays I’m just saying that even a plate of perfectly cooked steaks will have the occasional bite that isn’t as good as the rest of it. Thanks for reading everyone, feel free to disagree, agree, or do whatever else your hearts desire in the comments. Till Monday, I be out!!

  1. Reni says:

    Good sir, I am a librarian. And as such I am expected to emanate a certain air of professionalism, mystic wisdom, and above all, SILENCE. However, I am unable to perform my serene duties whilst guffawing with all the composure of an asthmatic water buffalo! Nothing throws library customers into a panic more than seeing the librarian apparently having an epileptic fit behind her Desk of Supreme Information. You alone are responsible for the disturbance of our hallowed quiet. Be ashamed, be very ashamed!

    On a side note, if you want to know why a shrew needs to be tamed, then I would suggest that you research its hunting habits, specifically, the pygmy and short-tailed shrews. But be forewarned, this is nightmare-inducing material.

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