For the moment, possums, I am going to put aside the post I’ve been writing on what we have learned from our reading of Romeo and Juliet. That means that, unless I return to that post at some later date, we have finished our first play—just 37 to go! We will be finished by 2050, I promise.
The most recent plan was to begin looking at Shakespeare’s comedies with The Comedy of Errors. However, Shakespeare in the Ruff has just opened its short run of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and people are interested in them; my posts about the company’s revival and its next-to-last performance in 2007 have been getting traffic. So we’ll begin instead with Two Gentlemen, and I’ll see the show as soon as I can—possibly this Friday—so I can blog about it.
Two Gentlemen is hardly the worst place to begin. As one of Shakespeare’s earliest comedies—possibly his first surviving play—it has pretty much all of his characteristic moves in embryonic and easily recognizable form. It has those two great monologues by Launce about Crab, the scene-stealingest dog in Western literature. And it has one really titanic drawback—the ending, the most appalling thing in Shakespeare, rivaled only by the ending of The Taming of the Shrew. (Maybe we should read the Shrew next and have a contest.) As I noted in my earlier post, Shakespeare in the Ruff seems to agree, and their web page at least strongly implies that they’ve changed the ending. I’ll be interested to see.
I’ll be using the Arden Third, whose introduction is a mere two dozen pages shorter than its text of the play. I think that may be a record.