Author: William Shakespeare
Date Finished: 7/04/13
Re-Read? : First time read
Challenges? : Yes – The Classics Club
Overall: 4/5 – rather good
This is the second of Shakespeare’s plays that I have read recently, and it is for the same reason as the first (Richard III) – in Bristol there is a theatre called ‘The Tobacco Factory’ and it hosts a couple of Shakespeare plays every year, which me and my family always go and see. They are put on spectacularly well and the theatre is small, in the round, usually with amazing live music so you can see why we like going so much. Anyway, I have already seen Richard III, which was completely brilliant and in a few weeks I will be seeing The Two Gentlemen of Verona, hence the reading of it now.
I didn’t know anything about the story before I started reading it, apart from it’s a comedy, so I kept checking sparknotes after every couple of scenes to check I had understood everything (on the whole I had, which was encouraging). I am proud of myself for persevering with the Shakespearean language and not letting this relatively short play drag out too long, which can easily happen.
The plot is really good in this play and I was genuinely surprised at the different twists and turns that came along, especially when Julia dressed up as a boy and the business with the outlaws. Obviously, the plot follows the usual format of a Shakespearean comedy but this felt more like a familiar friend than a boring repetition. Maybe this is also because I haven’t actually read a comedy since January 2012 (Much Ado About Nothing) anyway.
There are several main characters a few minor characters and that’s about it in this play, which is quite nice really. There are the Two Gentlemen – Proteus and Valentine and their respective love interests – Julia and Silvia. I thought they were all reasonably well developed, if a bit too forgiving at the end!
The setting of Verona/Milan doesn’t actually feature that much, but the language of Shakespeare in this play is a perfect balance between poetic and emotive and also easy to understand. I didn’t miss the finer details like I suspect I may have done slightly with Richard III, however, this could also be due to a less complex plot and a shorter play duration too.
Overall, this is a nice comedy and I would recommend it, but there is a reason why it is not so well known as other comedies and I don’t think it is going to change anyone’s life after reading it!