Imagining the critics…
Romeo & Juliet
William “Bard” Shakespeare
First performance at The Theater, London, 1594.
Last night was the opening of the newest work of the up-and-cming playwright William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet. While ambitious and well-written, the piece suffers from the inability to decide if it wants to be a comedy or a serious work. There are numerous humorous scenes, especially toward the beginning, only to give way to long stretches of serious drama that ends with a confused and bloody climax. Clearly the author, a young man in his early 30s, doesn’t yet know how to structure his works, and isn’t entirely sure what he wants to say, or if he wants to entertain us or make us weep. A defter handling of the material is needed. It’s doubtful this work will survive the crowded fall theater season.
Miguel de Cervantes
There is no wit or intellectual subtlety in this in-your-face satire of an old man tilting at windmills. (How clever!) The author thinks he is the first person to comment upon the injustices and hypocrisies of the world. The text barrages you with one statement or theme after another, each in contradiction of the one that came before it. It speaks of a blurry and frenetically undisciplined mind, one incapable of creating a true, well-considered masterpiece. Furthermore, the text is racist, with the writer’s anti-Islamicism in evidence.
It’s all well-meaning when girls try to write as men do. Unfortunately, because of their limited schooling and inferior intellect, they just don’t seem to understand some things apparent to any man. In Mary Shelley’s new novel Frankenstein, a living being is made from pieces of this and that cadaver, taken from graveyards. Anyone with an elementary knowledge of biology knows that this arrangement is impossible. Ms. Shelley should have consulted some medical or scientific texts before embarking on her well-meaning, but fatally-flawed novel, but since she is a woman it’s likely she would not have understood these complex scientific works intended for men. This novel will make a blockbuster movie or series of movies, however, for the popcorn crowd, as soon as movies and popcorn are invented.
This over-long and dry novel is long on promise, short on action. There is much talk about a great whale from the very first, but the giant creature does not appear till the last two pages, and only for the briefest of moments. Before that Melville bores us with a bromance between the main character, a shallowly-developed seaman, and his ethnic companion, Queequeg. The homorerotic impulses of two men away at sea for too long are more than evident, the big fish a mere excuse for the novel’s real intention. It might have worked better if Melville had chosen a shark, however, and filled his novel with snappier dialogue, such as, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat!”
George Bernard Shaw
Pygmalion is a disturbing play about two single, undersexed men—both middle-aged bachelors—who take an odd and probably unseemly interest in a young lower-class girl who ostensibly sells flowers to passers-by on a street corner. These men take her into their home on the pretense of teaching her to speak better in order to increase her prospects as a young entrepreneur. (And there’s something about a bet, and the study of linguistics too.) Shaw’s interest in this creepy subject is disturbing, and we’re never told which of the men sleeps with young Eliza, or if they pass her around or what exactly goes on. This is what London theater has degenerated into these days. Not for the faint-of-heart.
To The Lighthouse
This story is about a bunch of dull prunes trying to decide if they should go visit a nearby lighthouse. That’s it. They gaze at their navels instead. What are novels coming to these days? Is this what the new “modernism” movement is? Or are we already at post-modernism? Boring and pretentious!