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Monday, 30 December 2013

The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare

Hey guys. It's been a while since my last update, huh? Well, turns out that job searching is a lot more draining and distracting than I assumed it would be. So a large part of what I've been doing over the last couple of months has been a cycle of "look for a job -> fail at a late stage of an application -> feel my soul die a little -> look for a job". Add to that Christmas and my fourth anniversary to prepare for, it's been a tad hectic. I'm hoping the upcoming months will be less stressful, but I shan't get my hopes up.

Anyway, I just finished reading Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors. I had heard that this was one of his weaker plays, but I thought to myself, "This is Shakespeare, author of some of my most favourite plays ever, so it can't be that bad." Oh dear god, how wrong I was. I haven't actually gotten round to watching the BBC adaptation that I have, that's how pissed off I am about it.

The plot of The Comedy of Errors is a farce involving two sets of twins, separated at a young age and unaware of each others' existence. When one pair from Syracuse arrives in Epheseus to trade, they find that the people there mistake them for their twins; hijinks ensue. Why doesn't this unravel at the seams almost instantly? Both sets of twins have the same names. The merchants are both Antipholus, and the servants are both Dromio.
This coincidental set of circumstances brings me to the first reason that I couldn't abide this. The play actively defied my efforts to suspend disbelief. For one thing, the twins both have the same name? Really?! It's such lazy story-writing that I can only barely comprehend it. It's just so obvious that The Comedy of Errors was written for the paycheck that it's a constant distraction.
The second reason that I hated this play was that I couldn't help but feel that this was a far less successful attempt at writing Twelfth Night, one of my favourite plays. There are so many elements here that I've seen Shakespeare implement so much better elsewhere, like the mistaken identity thing between twins. I don't want to associate something like this with a play that I genuinely adore.
Third, I couldn't help but think that the female characters were both really pointless and kind of abused. For example, Adriana, the wife of the Antipholus from Epheseus, is physically attacked by her husband after she unwittingly shuts him out of his own home and he later threatens to put out her eyes because he believes she's been adulterous. This from the same person who was going to give expensive presents to a prostitute out of spite. It just got really uncomfortable at times, especially when other women were extolling his virtues and telling her not to be such a jealous harpy. It was just unnecessary and unnecessarily cruel.

Overall, this is a play that I would avoid. If you're a Shakespeare completist, then be warned that he has used the same elements in a far more competent manner. The customary clever language only compensates so much. 1.5/5

Next review: Ringworld by Larry Niven

Signing off,

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