Monday, January 1, 2018

January 2018

January 2018
Happy New Year! It has been a turbulent year, this 2017, but here we are, entering 2018 with perhaps more optimism than I would have thought possible. What fools these mortals be but also how noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in form and moving how express and admirable.

As always, I will once again mention to visitors of this blog that Shakespeare Calling – the book is available for purchase. Please help promote the book by buying it, of course, and telling your friends about it, by liking and sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Bokus…. And please encourage your local book shops and libraries to buy it.  Thank you. Your support is needed to keep this project alive.

FINALLY easily available for those of you in Great Britain and Europe on this site:

or
or Adlibris. Or contact the publisher info@vulkan.se

Shakespeare Calling – the book is promoted by
and

Shakespeare sightings:
  • ·       In the novel Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh the title character is a misfit, ‘like Joan of Arc, or Hamlet, but born into the wrong life – the life of a nobody, a waif, invisible.’ Later she had to leave school to take care of her mother and was secretly relieved but blamed her parents for her unhappiness and wished she was ‘in school again learning…the history of art, Latin, Shakespeare, whatever nonsense lay in store.’
  • ·       The Swedish YA fantasy novel Norra Latin by Sara Bergmark Elfgren is about the historical upper level school Norra Latin (which in reality is now a conference centre). In the novel it is still a school with a theatre program. It also has magic and ghosts but so much Shakespeare that the author was interviewed in the latest number of the journal of the Swedish Shakespeare Association.
  • ·       A literature critic compared the current turbulence in the Swedish Academy (brought about by the #metoo campaign) to a Shakespeare drama.
  • ·       In the rather sweet YA novel about werewolves, one of the two main characters, Sam, who is sometimes a wolf but often human, says to the other main character Grace’s mother, who claims not to be disappointed in her daughter’s practical nature: ‘Methinks the mom doth protest too much.’ Whether or not he knows he’s quoting Shakespeare is not mentioned.


Further since last time:
  • ·       Finished reading aloud with Hal: The Two Noble Kinsmen. Some by Shakespeare, more by Fletcher. Quite a strange play but not without interest.
  • ·       Wrote and posted: ‘Reflections’ on The Two Noble Kinsman
  • ·       Scheduled with friends E, E, A & L but not yet played: ‘Shakespeare – the Bard Game.’
  • ·       Had a book signing event, Saturday 9 December, with my alter ego Rhuddem Gwelin at the local bookshop Klackenbergs in Sundbyberg, Sweden. We mostly sold and signed the Merlin books but Shakespeare Calling – the book received not a little attention as well
  • ·       Received from friend JS – a calendar of Shakespeare insults. The insult for today, 1 January 2018, is ‘That quaffing and drinking will undo you’ (Twelfth Night). Very mild as Shakespeare insults go!
  • ·       Discovered that the public library in Östersund (northern Sweden) has Shakespeare calling – the book as an e-book.


Posted this month
  • ·       ‘Reflections’ on The Two Noble Kinsmen https://rubyjandshakespearecalling.blogspot.se/2018/01/the-two-noble-kinsmen-reflections.html 
  • ·       This report









The Two Noble Kinsmen - Reflections

Reflections
on
The Two Noble Kinsmen

     It’s worth reading. It has many themes one recognises from earlier Shakespeare – male friendship, female friendship, strong women, rivalry in romance, but all with a feeling of… more.
     The story: On the day of the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta, three widows appeal to Theseus to go to war against Thebes because their husbands have not been given a proper burial. The two noble kinsmen, Palamon and Arcite, fight to defend their city but are captured. They both see Hippolyta’s sister Emilia from their prison window and though they have just declared eternal love and friendship for each other they both fall in love with Emilia and become rivals. Plot twists get them both out of prison. The jail keeper’s daughter goes mad with love for Palamon. Theseus demands that Emilia choose one of the two. She can’t so they must duel to the death for her hand. Arcite wins. Palamon is to hang. Arcita falls off his horse and dies. Palamon and Emilia are wed.
     It’s funny to the point of parody and then suddenly it’s not. All this we recognise in Shakespeare. Fletcher was a good student.
     I’m not going to do a great deep analysis, but I would like to mention a few points of interest.

  • ·       Hippolyta is a strong character, though she has but few lines. The three queens at the beginning appeal not only to Theseus but to Hippolyta as well:


Honoured Hippolyta,
Most dreaded Amazonian, that hast slain
The scythe-tusked boar… (Act 1.1).

When the soldiers then head off to war Hippolyta says

We have been soldiers and we cannot weep
When our friends don their helms… (Act1.3).

     Oh, that Shakespeare never wrote a whole play about Hippolyta! What a character he would have made her. Much more interesting than Cleopatra!

  • ·       The two noble kinsmen’s love for one another is so passionate that I’m surprised this play hasn’t become a flagship for the Pride movement.


Arcite:
We are one another’s wife, ever begetting
New births of love: we are father, friends, acquaintance.
We are, in one another, families:
I am your heir and you are mine…
Palamon:
Is there record of any two that loved
Better than we do, Arcite? (Act 2.2, Fletcher)

     I suppose the fact that two minutes later they’re both madly in love with Emilia and deadly rivals brings their sincerity somewhat into question but still, I find the quotes a bit sweet.

  • ·       The jailer’s daughter is very much an Ophelia character in her passion and madness. She shows, however, more insight and initiative. She has fallen in love with Palamon though she knows it is pointless:


Why should I love this gentleman?
‘Tis odds
He never will affect me: I am base,
My father the mean keeper of his prison,
And he a prince. To marry him is hopeless,
To be his whore is witless. Out upon’t!
What pushes are we wenches driven to
When fifteen once has found us! (Act 2.4, Fletcher)

            Fifteen she may be, but she is also feisty:

Let all the dukes and all the devils roar,
He is at liberty: I have ventured for him
And out I have brought him, to a little wood
A mile hence I have sent him…
…there he shall keep close
Till I provide him file and food, for yet
His iron bracelets are not off (Act 2.6, Fletcher).

            I could go on. As I write I discover that there is quite a lot of interest in this play. I wish Shakespeare had written it when he was in his most prolific and brilliant period – not to put down Fletcher, his writing isn’t bad either. I wish we had some filmed versions.
            In any case, if you haven’t read it, do. It’s worth it.


PS The RSC has done a production in 2016. Perhaps a DVD is on its way?

Monday, December 4, 2017

December 2017

Approaching the Winter Solstice. It’s a good time to read Shakespeare and play the newly acquired Bard Game (see below). If we can figure it out.
In this dark (literally and figuratively) time, don’t let us forget to light candles, to hope and strive for equality and a strong healthy planet. Why not continue to find inspiration in Shakespeare?
Happy holidays to all!

As always, I will once again mention to visitors of this blog that Shakespeare Calling – the book is available for purchase. Please help promote the book by buying it, of course, and telling your friends about it, by liking and sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Bokus…. And please encourage your local book shops and libraries to buy it.  Thank you. Your support is needed to keep this project alive.

or
or Adlibris. Or contact the publisher info@vulkan.se

Shakespeare Calling – the book is promoted by
and

Shakespeare sightings:
  • In Star Trek, season 1 (from the 60’s – the original!) Kirk and Spock are watching Arcturian Macbeth played by Kodos the Executioner. Then Lady Macbeth (a young beauty) quotes Antony and Cleopatra to Kirk. Later the cast does Hamlet for the crew of the Enterprise. Clever use of quotes throughout, including the episode title ‘The Conscience of the King.’ Come to think of it, this was one of my early exposures to Shakespeare, when I watched the series faithfully every week as a teenager in the 60’s.
  • Christopher Hill opens the epilogue of his The Century of Revolution with one of my favourite quotes: ‘There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’
  • In Philip Roth’s American Pastoral Lou, the avid glove maker, refers to Romeo and Juliet and quotes, ‘See the way she leans her cheek on her hand? I only wish I was the glove on that hand so I could touch that cheek.’
  • In the last episode of Season Five of Buffy the Vampire Slayer they are off to fight the evil god Glory: Spike – ‘Not exactly the St Crispin speech’. Giles – ‘We few, we happy few.’ Spike – ‘We band of buggered…’
  • The entire film The Dresser with Albert Finney and Tom Courtney is full of Shakespeare references. Finney plays a grand old Shakespearean actor. Great film. See it!
  • In Peter Ackroyd’s Civil War he mentions that
    • it is believed that Shakespeare introduced the masque in The Tempest to celebrate the marriage between James’s daughter Elizabeth to Frederick V of the Palatinate.
    • Frederick assumed the Bohemian throne and thus Bohemia became a concern for James though ‘it was a distant land of which he knew nothing, remarkable only for the scene of shipwreck in Shakespeare’s The Winter Tale, performed nine years before, in which it was miraculously granted a sea coast.’
    • The Tempest was performed before the king on 1 November 1611 and Ackroyd emphasises the importance of music to the play and to theatre in general at the time.


Further since last time:
  • Finished reading aloud with Hal: King Lear
  • Wrote: ‘Nothing’ in King Lear
  • Ordered, received but not yet played: ‘Shakespeare – the Bard Game.’
  • Gave: my lecture ‘Why Shakespeare’ at the English Bookshop in Uppsala on Tuesday 7 November. A full house!
  • Started reading aloud with Hal: Two Noble Kinsmen. Some by Shakespeare, more by Fletcher. Quite a strange play but not without interest.
  • Have booked: a book signing event, Saturday 9 December, with my alter ego Rhuddem Gwelin at the local bookshop Klackenbergs in Sundbyberg, Sweden. We hope to sign many copies of Shakespeare calling – the book and the Merlin Chronicles. Do stop by if you happen to live in the area!


Posted this month
  • ‘Nothing’ in King Lear
  • This report




'Nothing' in King Lear

Nothing
in
King Lear

Cordelia: Nothing.
Lear: Nothing?
Cordelia: Nothing.
Lear: Nothing will come of nothing.

     Cordelia’s ‘nothing’ is everything. Lear has already destroyed the two older sisters by his blatant favouritism and he has already brought strife upon his kingdom by splitting it then refusing to really relinquish his power. Cordelia’s ‘nothing’, which in Lear’s defence could be interpreted as he did, was just one more frightening shift in a world already in doubt of its identity.
     Friends of numbers will note that the word ‘nothing’ is used eighteen times in Act One and thirty-four times throughout the play. Lear loses his hold on reality, Gloucester loses his eyes, Edgar loses his father, Goneril and Regan have lost everything long ago but don’t know it yet. These individuals – kings and lords and princesses – are supposed to have power. From the first scene onward their power crumbles, their control over their lives and their world – the control they believed they had had – is wrenched from them and their world explodes in storms and madness.
     Lear who had the most and who is the cruellest loses everything but so do the daughters he has destroyed. His most loyal friends commit treason for his sake, those loyal to the kingdom are vicious villains.
     Never never never never never.
     Nothing.
     That’s what this play leaves one with.
     I’m beginning to appreciate that. 



Sunday, November 5, 2017

November 2017


It’s not quite blow, winds, rage blow but it is November and windy and often grey and dark but that’s a good time to read and give lectures on ‘Why Shakespeare?’ (see below) and listen to new CD’s with Shakespeare music (see below). Yes, I’m OK with November!

As always, I will once again mention to visitors of this blog that Shakespeare Calling – the book is available for purchase. Please help promote the book by buying it, of course, and telling your friends about it, by liking and sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Bokus…. And please encourage your local book shops and libraries to buy it.  Thank you. Your support is needed to keep this project alive.

or
or Adlibris. Or contact the publisher info@vulkan.se

Shakespeare Calling – the book is promoted by
and

Shakespeare sightings:
  • In the novel The Shining by Stephen King Wendy jokingly calls her author husband Jack ‘the American Shakespeare’ and some 300 pages later when things have started to go wrong she reflects that the untidy half-mad Jack resembled ‘an absurd twentieth-century Hamlet, an indecisive figure so mesmerized by onrushing tragedy that he was helpless to divert its course or alter it in any way.’
  • In the novel At Yellow Lake by Jane McLoughlin, Etta’s hard-living mother says when Etta expresses surprise that her mother might go back to college, ‘Yeah. College. Why do you sound so shocked...I finished a whole semester before I had Jesse…English Lit, that was my major. Shakespeare. Jane Austen…’
  • Dagens Nyheter informs us that the brilliant Shakespearean (and elsewise) actor Jonas Karlsson has received the O’Neill award for his ability to awaken sympathy for dark characters, citing his interpretation of Richard III as an example. Jonas Karlsson was quoted as saying that to celebrate he would be playing Richard III that evening.
  • In the film Gideon’s Daughter with Bill Nighy and Emily Blunt, an excerpt from Richard III (popular play!) is performed at the daughter’s end of term assembly.
  • In Love Actually (watched the next evening because we can’t get enough of Nighy)
    • Hugh Grant as the prime minister boasts to the American president, ‘We are the country of Shakespeare, Harry Potter and David Beckham’s right foot.’
    • Colin Firth, a mystery writer, as his pages blow into the lake: ‘It’s not Shakespeare.’
  • In Christopher Hill’s The Century of Revolution he writes
    • in his introduction: ‘Shakespeare had thought of the universe and of society in terms of degree, hierarchy; by 1714 both society and the universe seemed to consist of competing atoms.’
    • ‘Shakespeare’s historical plays illustrate the Elizabethan sense that a strong monarchy was essential to defend national unity against foreign invasion and domestic anarchy.’
    • of the ‘boundless individualism’ in Macbeth and King Lear, Coriolanus and The Merchant of Venice, and that in Hamlet ‘the conflict has entered the soul of the hero.’
    • that in the late 17th century: ‘Tragedy and comedy, which Shakespeare had integrated in his plays, are now as sharply distinguished as prose and poetry….’
  • In the modern version of King Kong one of the sailors says to screen writer Adrien Brody as he passes, ‘Excuse me, Shakespeare.’
  • In the novel Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig
    • Lottie is worried about her teen-aged son and her mother Marta says, ‘that way madness lies.’
    • Hugh, Lottie’s father-in-law, about her and her husband Quentin’s marriage problems: ‘Love is not love that alters when alteration finds or bends with the remover to remove.’ Which sonnet? Any guesses?
    • Quentin, when discussing problems in sleeping arrangements in the crowded house with Lottie, who protests that her son can’t sleep in her bed: ‘No, that’d be altogether too much like Hamlet. Jesus, Lottie!’
    • Hugh, who does not have a good relationship with his son Quentin, tells him: ‘I’ll come back to haunt you like Hamlet’s father.’ 

Further since last time:
  • Started reading aloud with Hal: King Lear
  • Ordered, received but not listened to: the 10-CD box Shakespeare in Music
  • Preparations made: for my lecture ‘Why Shakespeare’ at the English Bookshop in Uppsala on Tuesday 7 November

Posted this month
  • This report





Sunday, October 1, 2017

October 2017

There’s been a bit more Shakespeare action this past month, both in my little world, and out there in the big one. After much struggle I finished a text on that difficult play, Measure for Measure, which seems to become more problematic each time we read it. I’m not completely unhappy to leave it for this time, but what to choose next? A more pleasant problem!

As always, I will once again mention to visitors of this blog that Shakespeare Calling – the book is available for purchase. Please help promote the book by buying it, of course, and telling your friends about it, by liking and sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Bokus…. And please encourage your local book shops and libraries to buy it.  Thank you. Your support is needed to keep this project alive.

or
or Adlibris. Or contact the publisher info@vulkan.se

Shakespeare Calling – the book is promoted by
and

Shakespeare sightings:
  • In the novel A Separation by Katie Kitamura the narrator compares her mother-in-law to Lady Macbeth. She’s not terrible fond of her mother-in-law.
  • In Stephen King’s massive It (1090 pages) he only manages two references to Shakespeare:
    • One of the characters is taking a writing course and the teacher asks, ‘Do you believe Shakespeare was just interested in making a buck?’ implying of course that he wasn’t. Well, he probably was, maybe not only but quite a lot.
    • When Beverly insists that it’s her husband who has all the talent, not her, friend Richie says, ‘Methinks the lady doth protest too much.’
  • In Lisa McInerney’s The Glorious Heresies one of the thugs is called Shakespeare ‘because he was as verbose a thug as you could find.’
  • In the film Genius the author Tom Wolfe (Jude Law) considers himself Caliban, ugly and deformed, and his editor Max Perkins (Colin Firth) exchanges some quotes with him.
  • Dagens Nyheter
    • had a long article about a children’s illustrated version of Hamlet by Barbro Lindgren and Anna Höglund. It’s called Titta Hamlet (Look Hamlet) and the first line is, ‘Look Hamlet. Hamlet not happy.’ The reviewer thinks it’s a small masterpiece. ‘This is not just a good start for those who want to meet Shakespeare for the first time, but a surprisingly strong interpretation even for those who have kept company with Hamlet for a long time.’
    • is selling tickets to Rickard III (with Jonas Karlsson, we saw it a couple of years ago – brilliant!).
    • had an article about great finds in used book stores and mentions William Shakespeare – comedies, histories and tragedies. Published according to the true original copies. The second impression.’ It’s the most expensive book on antikvariat.net, printed in 1632 and sold for 2 440398 Danish crowns in the Aanehus Aarhus antikvariat.
  • The TV program Go’kväll also talked about the above-mentioned kids’ version of Hamlet and the reviewer said essentially that the kids she’s read it to love it.
  • In the YA fantasy novel City of Bones the author Cassandra Clare starts out with a quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: ‘I have not slept. /Between the acting of a dreadful thing /And the first motion, all the interim is / Like a phantasm, or a hideous dream’. Sadly, though the novel is entertaining (somewhat), this quote does not make it great literature.

Further since last time:
  • Started reading: James Shapiro’s 1606 – The Year of King Lear
  • Finished reading aloud with Hal: Measure for Measure
  • Started reading aloud with Hal: the Sonnets, then reading the Swedish translation by Walter Dan Axelsson, then listening to those that are on the CD From Shakespeare with Love (bought because David Tennant reads many of them). So far we’ve read up to 18 (‘Shall I compare thee…’). Sadly, I really don’t like many of these early sonnets.

Posted this month





Losers in Measure for Measure'

Losers
in
Measure for Measure

     What murky darkness plagued Shakespeare as he was writing this play? It’s called a comedy – they get married in the end and no one dies, thus fulfilling the requirement – but it is the least comical of all the plays. It’s twisted, it’s sick, it’s disturbing. Coleridge called it painful. Oh, yes.
     I have already written about how puzzlingly dreadful the characters of the Duke, Isabella and Angelo are in Shakespeare Calling – the book (pages 390-398). In this exploration of what other scholars thought of these characters and the play I applauded Harold Bloom’s assessment of ‘blasphemous’, and Katherine Eisamen Maus writes that viewers/readers must be aware of the Christian church’s fear and loathing of sex. Since this still has bearing on our society I would like to look at how the Duke, by playing God, and Angelo, by being a tyrannical hypocrite, they make like miserable for more than just the victims Claudio and Juliet.
     Times are hard in this Vienna. We see this when Mistress Overdone informs Lucio and the other gentlemen that she has witnessed the arrest of Claudio. He is to be executed in three days’ time and she laments: ‘…what with the war, what with the sweat, what with the gallows, and what with poverty, I am custom-shrunk’ (Act 1.2). In other words, there are fewer and fewer men to visit her bawdy house.
     It gets worse for Mistress Overdone. Enter Pompey who informs her that all the bawdy houses in Vienna’s suburbs will be closed in the new strictness. Mistress Overdone: ‘Why here’s a change indeed in the commonwealth! What shall become of me?’ (Act 1.2). Though Pompey reassures her that she will manage, she’ll find a new house, and though this scene is, I assume, usually played for laughs, and though in our day and age in some of our countries at least bawdy houses are seen as exploitive and oppressive of women, Mistress Overdone’s distress at the threat of losing her livelihood is very real. Starvation was never far away in her world.
     She is right to be worried. Two acts later she is hauled before Escalus who orders the officers, ‘Go, away with her to prison.’ She pleads for mercy, claiming that Lucio has informed on her despite her caring for his illegitimate child. To no avail. Escalus: ‘Away with her to prison. Go to, no more words’ (Act 3.1). And indeed, we hear no more words from Mistress Overdone.
     Lucio is an odd character, complex and often quite likeable. Upon the news of Claudio’s arrest, he’s disturbed. ‘But, after all this fooling, I would not have it so’ (Act 1.2). He is supportive of Isabella in her first encounter with Angelo. ‘Well said…thou’rt i’ th’ right, girl, more o’ that’ (Act 2.2).  He speaks shrewdly to the Duke, disguised as a friar, about Angelo’s cruel enforcement of the law: ‘Yes, in good sooth, the vice is of a great kindred; it is well allied, but it is impossible to extirp it quite, friar, till eating and drinking be put down’ (Act 3.1).
     He’s not kind to Pompey, taunting him and refusing to help him as he’s hauled off to prison for being a bawd. Throughout the play Lucio jokes crudely about his exploits with prostitutes – not an admirable attitude – and he is an irritant to the Duke (amusing to the reader/audience) but the Duke, supposedly satisfied with the convoluted solution he has concocted to the Angelo-Isabella problem, is unnecessarily excessive in condemning Lucio for the crime of slandering a prince first to marrying the mother of his child then to whipping then hanging. It’s a comedy so possibly the Duke is jesting but this is Shakespeare’s England (never mind that the setting is Vienna) so probably not. Not terribly amusing in any case.
     Three more victims must be mentioned briefly. Pompey, an amiable fool, is as already noted imprisoned for bawdiness. Unlike Mistress Overdone, whose fate after imprisonment we are not told, Pompey, though snubbed and unaided by Lucio, lands on his feet. If he agrees to become an assistant to the executioner his prison sentence, including a whipping, will be cancelled. Not an enviable exchange, one might think, but Pompey approves the proposal: ‘Sir, I have been an unlawful bawd time out of mind, but yet I will be content to be a lawful hangman’ (Act 4.2). Hmmm, on second thought, this is indeed a step up on society’s ladder, so by rights I should remove Pompey from this list of losers.
     Nor does Mariana regard herself as a loser. She gets the husband she has longed for. How many times have we asked ourselves why so many of Shakespeare’s clever women are madly in love with such dreadful men? Surely Angelo is the most dreadful of them. Being married to him makes Mariana, without question no matter what she says, a loser.
     What Isabella thinks of her fate remains a mystery. Married to the Duke? No doubt seen by everyone else as a true prize. But Isabella, as cold and fanatical as she may be, is surely sincere in her aspirations to become a nun. By Shakespeare’s time there were few nuns left and in his fanatically Protestant England being a nun was only a step up from death as an acceptable fate for women, but Isabella is so very strong in her role as a novice that becoming a wife, no matter how aristocratic and wealthy, is to lose the independence, odd as it may seem, of being God’s servant. So, on my list of losers Isabella must remain.
     Shakespeare never makes things easy for us. Villains, heroes, winners, losers, they’re often one big muddle. Claudio and Juliet start out being the main losers in this play but they might just be – along with the unbearably smug Duke – the only ones who aren’t losers in this most troublesome of Shakespeare’s plays.
    
Works cited:
  • William Shakespeare, the Complete Works, the RSC edition, 2007. Edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen.

 Films seen this time:
  • From Shakespeare Calling – the book, page 398:
    • ‘BBC, 1979. Directed by Desmond Davis. Cast: Isabella – Kate Nelligan; Angelo – Tim Pigott-Smith; the Duke – Kenneth Colley; Claudio – Christopher Strauli; Lucio – John McEnery; Escalus – Kevin Stoney; Pompey – Frank Middlemass; Mariana – Jacqueline Pearce. 
    • A straightforward interpretation that seems to miss the essence of the play.  The cast is for the most part earnest, except for Lucio who is silly when he should be sardonic and cool.  The disgusting absurdity Shakespeare is trying to show us is not presented as an outrageous comedy, but as a … I’m not sure what.  Still I enjoyed it quite a lot until the final scene when Isabella smiled and took the Duke’s hand.  That kind of ruined everything.’ I agree with my earlier assessment.
  • The Globe, 2015. Director: Dominic Dromgoole. Cast: Isabella – Mariah Gale; Angelo – Kurt Egyiawan; the Duke – Dominic Rowan; Mistress Overdone – Petra Massey; Pompey – Trevor Foxe; Claudio – Joel MacCormack; Lucio – Brendan O’Hea; Mariana – Rosie Hilal; Juliet – Naana Agyei-Ampadu
    • Seriously flawed version. O’Hea interprets Lucio as a limp-wrist fop – awful! The farcical aspects completely destroy the comic elements of this tragic comedy. Egyiawan as Angelo is good though, and Gale does a serious Isabella though she’s a bit one-note weepy.