Friday, 23 December 2011

#77 and #78

I decided it is coming close to the new year and I am so far away from 100 that I will shoot for 80.  My reading has been tragically slack these last 3 months.  I account this to playing video games and watching TV.  Though now I have stopped watching TV, I am still playing video games, which I will probably stop shortly.

My latest entries are two plays, both from the book titled, Jacobean Sex Tragedies.  Who can see that title and at least not take a look inside?

#77 First up is the second play I've read by Thomas Middleton, and by no means the last as I am finding in him a skilled craftsmen comparable to Shakespeare in language, but not quite in dramatic construction.  In his "The Maiden's Tragedy" the focus is on the good woman who kills herself rather than be a forced wife to the Tyrant (actual name in the play).  Of course in all renaissance drama there must be a foil.  And her name is the Wife, and she sleeps around and is tricked into killing her paramour.  There are so many foils in this play it almost feels like two different plays, with real world characters and bizarro world characters.

I do love when a play goes into the weird and unexpected, which this play almost certainly does.  Just after the good woman kills herself the king takes her body back to his quarters and starts the first instance of necrophilia I have read about from Renaissance drama.  As if necrophilia was not enough, the lady's ghost visits her true love and lets him know that her body is currently being defiled.  So of course he must now kill the king for sleeping with the corpse of his love.  And in the process the bad Wife accidentally kills her lover, then her husband comes home and kills the servant, then his wife, and then the servant's lover.  It is a bloodbath at the end.  I must say that I quite liked this play.

#78  This play I chose because the name was so similar to the first one.  The Maid's Tragedy, by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher is about a woman that is sleeping with the king and then is married to another who she refuses to sleep with because of a tryst she made with the king.  And of course complications arise, foils are set, and tragedy ensues.  This play is not as well made as the first one.  Some of the action is unbelievable, the characters at times are flat, and some scenes just do not make sense.  For example one female is dressed as a man and there is no explanation whatsoever for this wardrobe change??!!!!!  People die and the play ends.  I guess this play was more for the masses than a regular Shakespeare play would have been.  You can tell this was a crowd pleaser with constant sexual innuendo and on stage antics that somehow did not go with the tone of the play.  It wanted to be comedy and tragedy and ended up being farce.