The Quality of Mercy – reflections on Shakespeare by Peter Brook
Having recently seen for the second time Peter Brook’s wonderful production of Hamlet with Adrian Lester in the title role I became inspired to read this little book bought a few months ago.
It is a modest collection of essays and all the more interesting for its modesty. In the first essay Brook calmly refutes the silly notion that someone else wrote Shakespeare by pointing out that these plays had to have been written by someone who spent every waking hour working in the theatre and, quite simply, none of the other candidates spent all that much time in the theatre at all. He concludes with the simple statement that the question is out of date.
In another he describes his problems with producing a Romeo and Juliet with young actors, breaking with the tradition that only experienced older actors could handle the challenge, but how it all became stiff anyway because of sticking too faithfully to each scene and losing the flow of the whole.
Titus, Lear, Prospero all make their appearances and Brook ends his book thus: ‘Shakespeare. Quality. Form. This is where our work begins. It can never end.’
A most pleasant read.