failed my A-Level in English Literature



Books In her introduction to The Shakespeare Quiz and Puzzle Book, author Maggie Lane (who's created similar volumes about Jane Austen and The Bronte Sisters) says that she’s “concentrated on the passages we are all familiar with in the belief that it is always a pleasure to come upon what is known and loved” but that at the same time she’s made sure that our knowledge is still being challenged. That this quiz and puzzle book has an introduction anyway shows how much thought Lane is putting into the exercise and she’s certainly succeeded in her aims.

Unlike the Pocket Posh, which I reviewed previously, Lane’s book is aimed squarely at Shakespeare fans and scholars. The clues for crosswords and most of the quizzes consist of quotations with missing words the reader must fill in and the name games ask for biographical details about a list of characters – occupations or family relationships. Only in the word searches does Lane assume no prior knowledge, though it might be a help given the unfamiliarity spellings.

In other words, my mettle has been thoroughly tested and I was simultaneously proud and exasperated. In theory having seen the play over thirty times in different forms, the Hamlet crossword shouldn’t be a problem but I discovered there were still gaps in my knowledge – though of course not all of the productions have been from complete texts and so I have heard some passages more often than others. Or at least that’s what I kept telling myself as I skipped to the next clue hoping to fill in some useful letters.

Elsewhere – well let’s just say I don’t know some of these plays as well as I thought I did. Lane’s posers are well chosen since often the clue to the missing word is elsewhere in the quotation taking full advantage of Shakespeare’s poetry, for example, when the character is making a point by mixing thematic antonyms. But what I’ve mainly discovered is that in watching the plays I may have spent moare time following the story and enjoying the performances than absorbing the poetry. Nothing much has changed since I failed my A-Level in English Literature.

The book is illustrated with drawings by H.C. Selous taken from a famous complete works commissioned by Charles Cowden Clarke in the late 1860s and reprinted dozens of times since. They’re entertaining examples of pantomime Victoriana, all grand emotional gestures, bowed heads and pointing and give the book, despite its original publication date in 1984, a sense of timelessness. Now I’m off to sharpen my pencil. “If sack and … be a fault, God help the wicked.” Um.

The Shakespeare Quiz and Puzzle Book by Maggie Lane is published by Abson Books. £4.95. ISBN: 9780902920569. Review copy supplied.

The Shakespeare Quiz and Puzzle Book by Maggie Lane.



In her introduction to The Shakespeare Quiz and Puzzle Book, author Maggie Lane (who's created similar volumes about Jane Austen and The Bronte Sisters) says that she’s “concentrated on the passages we are all familiar with in the belief that it is always a pleasure to come upon what is known and loved” but that at the same time she’s made sure that our knowledge is still being challenged. That this quiz and puzzle book has an introduction anyway shows how much thought Lane is putting into the exercise and she’s certainly succeeded in her aims.

Unlike the Pocket Posh, which I reviewed previously, Lane’s book is aimed squarely at Shakespeare fans and scholars. The clues for crosswords and most of the quizzes consist of quotations with missing words the reader must fill in and the name games ask for biographical details about a list of characters – occupations or family relationships. Only in the word searches does Lane assume no prior knowledge, though it might be a help given the unfamiliarity spellings.

In other words, my mettle has been thoroughly tested and I was simultaneously proud and exasperated. In theory having seen the play over thirty times in different forms, the Hamlet crossword shouldn’t be a problem but I discovered there were still gaps in my knowledge – though of course not all of the productions have been from complete texts and so I have heard some passages more often than others. Or at least that’s what I kept telling myself as I skipped to the next clue hoping to fill in some useful letters.

Elsewhere – well let’s just say I don’t know some of these plays as well as I thought I did. Lane’s posers are well chosen since often the clue to the missing word is elsewhere in the quotation taking full advantage of Shakespeare’s poetry, for example, when the character is making a point by mixing thematic antonyms. But what I’ve mainly discovered is that in watching the plays I may have spent moare time following the story and enjoying the performances than absorbing the poetry. Nothing much has changed since I failed my A-Level in English Literature.

The book is illustrated with drawings by H.C. Selous taken from a famous complete works commissioned by Charles Cowden Clarke in the late 1860s and reprinted dozens of times since. They’re entertaining examples of pantomime Victoriana, all grand emotional gestures, bowed heads and pointing and give the book, despite its original publication date in 1984, a sense of timelessness. Now I’m off to sharpen my pencil. “If sack and … be a fault, God help the wicked.” Um.

The Shakespeare Quiz and Puzzle Book by Maggie Lane is published by Abson Books. £4.95. ISBN: 9780902920569. Review copy supplied.

Artifacts:
Liverpool Daily Post promotional eraser with the old logo on it.

a broad enough eye and heart

At first glance, The Shakespeare Encyclopedia is an impressive volume. Open up to any double page spread at random and the eye is greeted by a feast of colour from classical paintings illustrating the plays or well chosen photographs from a range of productions, broadly from the past decade underscoring that these aren’t dead plays, but stories and characters that continue to breath to this day. Visually it has everything you’d want from a coffee table book and even without reading the text you’re left with an overwhelming sense of the variety of the man’s work and how it has influenced culture across the decades and centuries.

Which isn’t to say the text itself is a disappointment, it just depends what you’re picking up this kind of book for. Eschewing the expected alphabetical list of entries from perhaps Aaron to York, the content is more akin to tomes with handbook or guide in the title, opening with biographical and contextual information, followed by individual entries for the plays and poetry in genre groupings. Which puts it in direct competition with the likes of the Rough Guide To Shakespeare, offering an overview of a vast subject for people who don’t want to have to wade into an Arden and just find a synopsis of the story and a brief outline of the themes.

What sets it apart, is the decision to employ multiple authors, twenty-odd academics from across the world and not straight-jacket them too much in how they structure their entries. There is a synopsis, a dramatis personae and relationships table but beyond that it is left to the author to emphasise what they believe are of most interest or importance be they sources, themes or production history rather than including all three by rote. This makes the book a more alert and vital read without the slight element of repetition that can creep in when a single author is attempting to bring the same level of interest to Timon of Athens as The Tempest.

That leaves the reader’s expectations continually flouted. The introduction seems like a fairly standard run through but two whole pages are dedicated to the apocrypha and whilst the content itself isn’t that detailed, it’s still surprising to Fair Em even mentioned. The first pop culture reference in the book is to Doctor Who on a page that also photographically highlights The Maori Merchant of Venice. The chief consultant A.D. Cousins isn’t quite as unorthodox as to gift Edward III a full entry (unlike Dorling Kindersley’s Essential Shakespeare Handbook) but the section on the sonnets and narrative poems is the longest and best illustrated I’ve seen.

In her Hamlet entry, Jane Kingsley-Smith, Senior Lecturer at Roehampton University offers a persuasive argument that far from its reputation as a model revenge tragedy, the play is most interested in rewriting the conventions set out by earlier works by injecting elements of Catholic guilt and a heavy burden of a title character conflicted by twin duties to his late father and the state. Adorned with photos of arguably the primary screen Hamlets, Olivier, Branagh, Smoktunovsky and Tennant (thanks to the blu-ray) Kingsley-Smith’s entry itself surprises by concentrating on the adaptation history of the play giving lip-service to both The Lion King and Updike’s Gertrude and Claudius.

Readers seeking a more structured analytical approach to the plays may feel alienated and also dissatisfied that pagination must to have been selected based on the popularity of the plays, with Lear gifted ten sides and The Two Noble Kinsmen just two, barely enough time to scratch the surface of what is a deceptively complex play. Picture captions are also a bit of a mixed bag. With such a glorious selection of production shots, I would have liked to have seen more clearer labelling of dates, venue and director, or in the case of paintings and sculpture their ownership and display, especially since this may be the only occasion when many of them are reproduced.

Which is what really makes this a very special volume. Similar guides contain these kinds of shots, but rarely this number, and most often in smudgy monochrome. But page after page is filled with scenes brought to life with a broad enough eye and heart to include both Patrick Stewart in the Chichester Festival Theatre and the straight to dvd production with Helena Baxendale as Lady Macbeth. Previously, my main impression of Timon of Athens is the cheap set and static staging of the BBC Shakespeare (which is notable by its absence here) but the action shot fro the Globe of Simon Pasiley Day hurling gold in the air with the Banditti scrabbling for it is enough to make me consider looking at the play in a new light.

The Shakespeare Encyclopedia: The Complete Guide to the Man and His Works. Chief Consultant A.D. Cousins. Published by Apple Press. £20.00. ISBN: 9781845433390. Review copy supplied.

The Shakespeare Encyclopedia: The Complete Guide to the Man and His Works. Chief Consultant A.D. Cousins.



At first glance, The Shakespeare Encyclopedia is an impressive volume. Open up to any double page spread at random and the eye is greeted by a feast of colour from classical paintings illustrating the plays or well chosen photographs from a range of productions, broadly from the past decade underscoring that these aren’t dead plays, but stories and characters that continue to breath to this day. Visually it has everything you’d want from a coffee table book and even without reading the text you’re left with an overwhelming sense of the variety of the man’s work and how it has influenced culture across the decades and centuries.

Which isn’t to say the text itself is a disappointment, it just depends what you’re picking up this kind of book for. Eschewing the expected alphabetical list of entries from perhaps Aaron to York, the content is more akin to tomes with handbook or guide in the title, opening with biographical and contextual information, followed by individual entries for the plays and poetry in genre groupings. Which puts it in direct competition with the likes of the Rough Guide To Shakespeare, offering an overview of a vast subject for people who don’t want to have to wade into an Arden and just find a synopsis of the story and a brief outline of the themes.

What sets it apart, is the decision to employ multiple authors, twenty-odd academics from across the world and not straight-jacket them too much in how they structure their entries. There is a synopsis, a dramatis personae and relationships table but beyond that it is left to the author to emphasise what they believe are of most interest or importance be they sources, themes or production history rather than including all three by rote. This makes the book a more alert and vital read without the slight element of repetition that can creep in when a single author is attempting to bring the same level of interest to Timon of Athens as The Tempest.

That leaves the reader’s expectations continually flouted. The introduction seems like a fairly standard run through but two whole pages are dedicated to the apocrypha and whilst the content itself isn’t that detailed, it’s still surprising to Fair Em even mentioned. The first pop culture reference in the book is to Doctor Who on a page that also photographically highlights The Maori Merchant of Venice. The chief consultant A.D. Cousins isn’t quite as unorthodox as to gift Edward III a full entry (unlike Dorling Kindersley’s Essential Shakespeare Handbook) but the section on the sonnets and narrative poems is the longest and best illustrated I’ve seen.

In her Hamlet entry, Jane Kingsley-Smith, Senior Lecturer at Roehampton University offers a persuasive argument that far from its reputation as a model revenge tragedy, the play is most interested in rewriting the conventions set out by earlier works by injecting elements of Catholic guilt and a heavy burden of a title character conflicted by twin duties to his late father and the state. Adorned with photos of arguably the primary screen Hamlets, Olivier, Branagh, Smoktunovsky and Tennant (thanks to the blu-ray) Kingsley-Smith’s entry itself surprises by concentrating on the adaptation history of the play giving lip-service to both The Lion King and Updike’s Gertrude and Claudius.

Readers seeking a more structured analytical approach to the plays may feel alienated and also dissatisfied that pagination must to have been selected based on the popularity of the plays, with Lear gifted ten sides and The Two Noble Kinsmen just two, barely enough time to scratch the surface of what is a deceptively complex play. Picture captions are also a bit of a mixed bag. With such a glorious selection of production shots, I would have liked to have seen more clearer labelling of dates, venue and director, or in the case of paintings and sculpture their ownership and display, especially since this may be the only occasion when many of them are reproduced.

Which is what really makes this a very special volume. Similar guides contain these kinds of shots, but rarely this number, and most often in smudgy monochrome. But page after page is filled with scenes brought to life with a broad enough eye and heart to include both Patrick Stewart in the Chichester Festival Theatre and the straight to dvd production with Helena Baxendale as Lady Macbeth. Previously, my main impression of Timon of Athens is the cheap set and static staging of the BBC Shakespeare (which is notable by its absence here) but the action shot fro the Globe of Simon Pasiley Day hurling gold in the air with the Banditti scrabbling for it is enough to make me consider looking at the play in a new light.

The Shakespeare Encyclopedia: The Complete Guide to the Man and His Works. Chief Consultant A.D. Cousins. Published by Apple Press. £20.00. ISBN: 9781845433390. Review copy supplied.

it turned into an ambush

TV Author Keris Stainton recently wrote a short column about her Twitter addiction as result of which she was invited to a recording The Vanessa Show she thought to expand on the points made in the column, as an expert on the subject. But as she explains on her blog, it turned into an ambush with Keris effectively held up as a freak:
"The actually interview is pretty much a blur, but I know she started by saying something about how she was amazed that I’d agreed to join them in the real world, something about “isn’t it true that you never even talk on the phone anymore!” and that my husband gets annoyed that I’m online all the time! And that I’m on Twitter when I’m with my kids!"

"I was completely wrong-footed. I remember thinking, “Wow. You bitch.” But at the same time I felt a sort of grudging admiration. She’s a pro. And I was naive. And I knew I was screwed. It’s The Vanessa Show, after all."
Well, yes, but it depends on how the show characterised what Keris's participation was going to be. Plus, because it was recorded and not going out live there probably also wasn't much room to ambush Feltz back by pointing out that all this was only based on her leading questions in the make-up room since that could be censored.

Derby Shakespeare Theatre Company Production at the Derby Theatre.15 March until 19 March 2011.



The pitch:
"Derby Shakespeare Theatre Company is proud to return to Derby Theatre with a ghostly tale of revenge and passion. This exciting new production will make full use of the Derby Theatre stage to bring this dark supernatural story to life.

Derby Shakespeare Theatre Company are delighted to bring possibly Shakespeare’s finest, and certainly one of his most challenging plays to Derby audiences."
Tickets, timings and telephone numbers.

isn't just about football and The Beatles

Liverpool Life You've probably read it everywhere else first but it is still worth mentioning. The Museum of Liverpool opens Tuesday 19 July 2011, which as Sam notes on the National Museums Liverpool blog "is a significant date as it is exactly 100 years after the museum's iconic neighbour the Royal Liver Building opened its doors."

Needless to say I'm very excited about this. I adored the smaller Liverpool Life museum but knew that the city could do with a larger building that properly captured the history of the city with enough space to display the objects that tell our story, objects which otherwise were strewn across the many sites or in the museum stores.

Now we will have an architectural statement that should act as the epicentre for both our tourism and for younger generations to learn about the place in which they live, that isn't just about football and The Beatles, but something far deeper and more complex.  My heart beats with pride.

the other danger with Shakespearean trivia

Books Even for the seasoned Shakespearean the idea of a quiz or puzzle book dedicated to the canon is a fairly intimidating prospect (fairly?).  Most of us probably know some of the plays very well, the tragedies and comedies most often produced and everything else as a vague recollection. How do you produce something which is accessible enough to be enjoyable for a general audience and distracting enough for scholars?

Apart from some straight quizzes, the Pocket Posh® William Shakespeare’s main approach is to present a series of puzzles that can mostly be completed without an extensive knowledge of the plays. The crosswords have a series of shaded boxes that will spell out a play or character once the grid is completed. Word searches, kriss krosses and code crackers list Shakespeare related words to be fitted in or found.

I went straight to the quizzes, which were indeed quite tricky, some questions asking for events in specific years which I think scholars are still arguing about. But I managed an (in my head) respectable 16/25 which included a guess for one of the posers on page one hundred and twenty-four the basis for which looks factually incorrect to me or at least is open to greater discussion than presented in the totality of the answer.

Which is the other danger with Shakespearean trivia – even the very language of the plays is hotly contested especially if there’s more than text being worked from. So it probably is just as well that behind the attractive wrap around cover, the bulk of the other clues in the book – for the crosswords – are far less ambiguous mostly consisting of straight general knowledge questions that we all have a shot at answering.

Pocket Posh® William Shakespeare: 100 Puzzles and Quizzes' by The Puzzle Society is published by Andrews McMeel. £5.99. ISBN: 9781449401252. Review copy supplied.

Pocket Posh® William Shakespeare: 100 Puzzles and Quizzes by The Puzzle Society.



Even for the seasoned Shakespearean the idea of a quiz or puzzle book dedicated to the canon is a fairly intimidating prospect (fairly?).  Most of us probably know some of the plays very well, the tragedies and comedies most often produced and everything else as a vague recollection. How do you produce something which is accessible enough to be enjoyable for a general audience and distracting enough for scholars?

Apart from some straight quizzes, the Pocket Posh® William Shakespeare’s main approach is to present a series of puzzles that can mostly be completed without an extensive knowledge of the plays. The crosswords have a series of shaded boxes that will spell out a play or character once the grid is completed. Word searches, kriss krosses and code crackers list Shakespeare related words to be fitted in or found.

I went straight to the quizzes, which were indeed quite tricky, some questions asking for events in specific years which I think scholars are still arguing about. But I managed an (in my head) respectable 16/25 which included a guess for one of the posers on page one hundred and twenty-four the basis for which looks factually incorrect to me or at least is open to greater discussion than presented in the totality of the answer.

Which is the other danger with Shakespearean trivia – even the very language of the plays is hotly contested especially if there’s more than text being worked from. So it probably is just as well that behind the attractive wrap around cover, the bulk of the other clues in the book – for the crosswords – are far less ambiguous mostly consisting of straight general knowledge questions that we all have a shot at answering.

Pocket Posh® William Shakespeare: 100 Puzzles and Quizzes' by The Puzzle Society is published by Andrews McMeel. £5.99. ISBN: 9781449401252. Review copy supplied.

can't be a sustainable business model

Commerce Even though I don't drink much wine, one of my pleasures is visiting Oddbins to buy a bottle as a present for other people. My selection process has been honed over many years and is based on a simple premise -- does it have an interesting label?  The customer service is always of an extremely high standard. When I was last in Allerton Road, I happened to mention the purchase was for my mother's birthday and the vinter offered to gift wrap it for me, which he did with lots of frills and bows and the kind of artistic commitment not seen since Michelangelo lay on his back for four years, wiping paint and dust from his beard.

But the chain is in trouble thanks to big discounts by supermarkets and the bargain off licenses and a less discerning public pallet and though the Allerton Road shop is safe, they're closing the outlets on Bold Street and Castle Street as they cut back their total number of shops by a third.  This leaves, because of further closure in Formby and the Wirral, the Allerton Road branch as the only Oddbins on Merseyside.  I'm not that surprised. These are never busy shops, though when I asked one of the vintners about that they suggested I visit on a weekend evening and see the queues.  But that can't be a sustainable business model, and as it turns out isn't.

three videos of women doing brilliant things

That Day Because I'm lacking in inspiration, here are three videos of women doing brilliant things since it's International Women's Day.

Firstly, Hotpants Romance delivering a gig to a string of answering machines:



Something from poet Lana Citron:



And Jane Bond, because it's important:

a speculation frenzy in the wrong hands



Books Despite having read a few biographies of Shakespeare over the past few years, for some reason I never quite tire of them because like productions of his plays, they all seem to contain at least one memorable element which separates it from the rest, be it some new discovery or stylistic decision or approach to the material. Turn to the dedication page of F. E. Halliday’s Shakespeare: a pictorial biography and we find “To: BARBARA HEPWORTH in Friendship And Admiration”. As well as a Shakespeare scholar, he was a close friend of the St Ives circle after spending a year there during the second world war, a residency he later made permanent.

So the book is perhaps as interesting now for the biography of the author as the contents. But originally published in 1956 (this is a later book club reprint) it’s still nonetheless a fascinating read, not least because it’s less interested in the writing of the actual plays (which can be a speculation frenzy in the wrong hands) and spends much of its pagination offering a detailed context of the world in which the plays were written and performed. Viewing the canon in isolation, it’s easy to forget that Shakespeare’s career began at just the moment Mary Queen of Scots lost her head and the Spanish Armada.

Halliday also lucidly explains how the form of theatre Shakespeare employed developed from the first definable comedy (Ralph Roister Doister) and first definable tragedy (Gorboduc), both originally written to be performed by the boys of Eton. He argues that the reason Shakespeare gained such notoriety was because at his peak, no one else was writing with his quality and that it wasn’t until he reached semi-retirement that other playwrights found their voice. He also explains with clarity why the Globe is the shape it is: a mix of the traditional circular auditorium used previously for religious plays and the yards at the back of inns with their balcony viewing.

What kept me reading though was the obvious enthusiasm Halliday has for his subject (which isn’t always the case with some scholars). “No other writer has ever created a comparable company of men and women, humble and exalted, grave and gay, comic and tragic, noble and ignoble” he says before filling out the rest of that paragraph with a list of names (which fails to include anyone from Measure for Measure but I’ll forgive him that). On a few occasions his textual analysis amounts to printing a chunk of verse and pointing a lot in the way that some DJs offer their favourite tune with little to no explanation because, as is so often with Shakespeare, none is necessary.

the Walker’s latest exhibition, A Collector’s Eye: Cranach to Pissarro, also intertwines these twin values



Art Watching as many television antiques programmes as I somehow do, I couldn’t fail to recognise Tim Wonnacott walking towards me at the Walker Art Gallery this morning. He was presumably visiting with a film crew for the next series of Bargain Hunt but was gone before I had a chance to ask him one of those questions I’ve often idled away at when I see otherwise professional dealers and auctioneers presenting these educational inserts for shows that would otherwise amount to just buying and selling. How do they switch it off or more precisely, can they visit art galleries and museums and enjoy the objects for the aesthetic qualities without attempting to size up their monetary value as well?

Coincidentally, the Walker’s latest exhibition, A Collector’s Eye: Cranach to Pissarro, also intertwines these twin values. This is a selection of pictures from the four hundred strong Schorr Collection, which has been assembled by collector David J Lewis over the past thirty-five years.  It's the kind of private haul which in earlier times could have been amassed by some local businessman and, through loan, donation or bequest might have been the basis for many of the collections of the many regional museums and art galleries I’ve visited in the past few years.  Lewis's taste, as the subtitle for the exhibition suggests, is for 15th-century devotional images and 19th-century French Impressionist landscapes.

As I think we discovered when I opened up my collection a couple of weeks ago, more than film and music, but not unlike food, most of us have very specific tastes when it comes to art and mine don’t quite match Lewis’s which meant the first half of the visit was a bit disappointing.  Most of these large canvases are very skilfully painted and colourful but left me feeling curiously blank no matter the pain and suffering some of them depict (cf, Cranach's Lamentation over dead Christ). But wanting to draw something from the experience, knowing Wonnacott was talking enthusiatically to camera somewhere in the building and inspired by the Walker’s request for us to think about the kinds of paintings we’d like in our own collection I hatched a plan.

I decided to pretend that Lewis had put all of these paintings up for sale and that with the infinite pretend funds that were now making my pockets bulge I could take one of his paintings home with me. Now the question wasn’t “Do I like this?” it was “Would it fit on the wall of the huge invisible mansion I’ve just acquired?” After strolling about a bit more and stroking my imaginary moustache, I decided that actually my vast fortune was large enough that I could treat myself and that really I should have two paintings. So I lifted Fran├žois Marius Granet’s Interior of the Capuchin Monastry, Rome and Louis-Auguste-Gustave Dore’s Scottish Landscape into my trolly and headed for the tills.

It’s the lighting which stands out in the Granet, the painter skilfully building the scene from autumnal yellows and browns, the shapes on the curved walls of the monastery and the cowls of the figures defined by greays and blacks not unlike the cinematographer Gordon Willis, who was nicknamed the prince of darkness for his similarly dark photography in The Godfather. There’s also a curious amount of action in what should be a relatively static scenes, the friars depicted in various states of prayer some more energetic than others. In the accompanying catalogue we also discover that the painting is more accessible than most since the artist painted many versions, often with slight variations – some even include nuns.

Dore’s landscape has some elements which can’t be replicated in photography. A massive panoramic image, depicting a solitary figure in a Scottish wilderness stretching on for miles the artist’s brushwork gives the rocks and trees realistic textures and shading that creates an impression that’s welcoming but tinged with foreboding. He visited the highlands in April 1873 and resolved that most of his work after that would be “reminiscent” of the place – which is why I was drawn to it. Unless I’ve misread the accompanying text, this isn’t from life, it’s from memory and it’s just the kind of fantasy location my little cottage would be in. Though obviously if I really was rich enough I’d gladly give up both images to go and live in that cottage instead.

So I metaphorically put the paintings back on the wall before the thought police came.

in simplest terms

TV As ever with these things, I'm recording the whole series of Dr Brian Cox's Wonders of the Universe so that I can watch them all in one sitting later. Glancing at twitter during the broadcast, in simplest terms, this seems to sum up the content:



And this the reaction:



Can't wait.

The Horatio Project.

"The Horatio Project" was week long experimental residency at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts in which a group of students explored Hamlet's dying wish to his friend, to tell his story. Chris Rohman of The Valley Advocate reports:
"I was able to sit in on some of the "Horatio" sessions as an observer and occasional participant. Berkman explained that he was interested in the idea of Horatio-as-biographer because it encompasses multiple themes, including the questions of viewpoint, identity, inclusion and omission, social/political pressures and biases that hover over every attempt at writing a person's—or a nation's—history. As Hamlet was instructed by his father's ghost to "revenge his foul and most unnatural murder," so Horatio is charged by Hamlet, soon to be a ghost himself, to "report me and my cause aright."
In other words, make sure the world doesn't judge me too harshly.

Northern Broadsides production. On Tour.28th Feb until 28th May 2011.

Calling at Newcastle-under-Lyme, Scarborough, Halifax, Aberystwyth, Leeds, Belfast, Isle of Man and Kingston.  The pitch:
“What dreams may come …”

A restless spirit haunts the battlements of Elsinore. The veil between the natural and the supernatural is ripped apart, and a tormented young man teeters on the brink of madness. His choices are stark: revenge or mercy; hope or despair; life or death.

Northern Broadsides’ haunting production, directed by Conrad Nelson, employs theatrical sleight of hand to conjure ghosts of the dead and demons of the mind; bringing you an inventive and insightful take on the tortured Danish Prince.

Renowned for their startlingly fresh approach to Shakespeare and performed by a multi-talented cast of charismatic actors, come and see for yourselves why Northern Broadsides has won a loyal following both nationally and internationally.
Dates are posted at their website.