Monday, September 10, 2012

Review: Shakespeare on Toast by Ben Crystal


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:

Who's afraid of William Shakespeare? Just about everyone. He wrote too much and what he did write is inaccessible and elitist. Right?
Wrong. Shakespeare on Toast knocks the stuffing from the staid old myth of Shakespeare, revealing the man and his plays for what they really are: modern, thrilling and uplifting drama.
Actor and author Ben Crystal brings the bright words and colourful characters of the world's greatest hack writer brilliantly to life, handing over the key to Shakespeare's plays, unlocking the so-called difficult bits and, astonishingly, finding Shakespeare's own voice in among the poetry.
Told in five fascinating Acts, Shakespeare on Toast sweeps the cobwebs from the Bard - from his language, his life, his time - revealing both the man and his work to be relevant, accessible and full of beans.
This is a book for everyone, whether you're reading Shakespeare for the first time, occasionally find him troublesome, think you know him backwards, or have never set foot near one of his plays but have always wanted to ... It's quick, easy and good for you. Just like beans on toast.
Visit shakespeareontoast.com to find out more.

MY TAKE:

I remember performing a scene from Merchant of Venice in high school. I had a pretty good time, but even so, I didn't really understand everything about the play. I knew just enough to get by, but there were certain words and passages that just seemed so foreign to me.

Shakespeare on Toast aims to demystify Shakespeare by putting a new twist on the usual Shakespeare guides. Aside from the usual history and trivia, it tries to explain the language and the context of the plays. That is, in those days, Shakespeare's plays weren't viewed by the audience as something deep that should be  analyzed again and again. Instead, it would be something along the lines of a soap opera.

The book isn't as informative as other guides, in the sense that it's less academic than other Shakespeare guides. This is more of a guide for the everyman who wants to try and understand Shakespeare without getting bored in the process.

I learned a lot from this book. I wouldn't say that I completely understand how to decode the language in the books, but I do get it a little better now that I understand it in the way his old audience did.

Thanks to NetGalley and Icon Books for the e-ARC. Publication date of Shakespeare on Toast is on September 11, 2012.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's Shakespeare demystified.
  2. It's easy to understand but it doesn't treat you like an idiot.
  3. The writing style is fun and not boring.

THE BAD:

  1. You still might not be able to understand some of Shakespeare's plays.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Son and heir of a mongrel bitch... Classy.
READ IT IF:

  1. You like Shakespeare but never really understood his work.
  2. You want to understand what life would have been like for Shakespeare's audience.
  3. You are looking for a somewhat more interesting Shakespeare guide.

RATING:
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