Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
Just want to say that this is a rare, uncut version of the play. Audible's other "Earnest" titles are of the abbreviated text usually performed. It's a real pleasure to hear Wilde's very witty lines - and a whole scene - which are routinely cut from productions.
If you already know "The Importance of Being Earnest" or other of Wilde's very funny plays, you'll be aware that the plot is pure fluff and silliness. I mean that in the very best way: Monty Python and P.G Wodehouse (What Ho, Jeeves!) owe a debt to Oscar Wilde.
This is obviously an older recording, but the sound is quite good. The performers are wonderful, tho perhaps less well-known that those on other versions. I enjoyed this thoroughly!
First of all, let me say that "Twelfth Night" is wonderful Shakespeare. It's great for an introduction to the bard: the story is easy to follow, the language is beautiful, there's music and comedy, and the characters are very appealing.
The format here is the difference. There's an introduction, with background on the play as well as a brief biography of Shakespeare and his times. Then, the play begins. A narrator interrupts the action every few lines to re-phrase in "plain English" what's been said. This sort of interpretation is helpful to newcomers to the play, but it can also be quite distracting and, understandably, disrupts the flow of the production. For the best experience of the play itself, I think the way to proceed would be to listen first to a version without the commentary, then to this.
The commentary is quite good, I think. The explanations are presented clearly, and there is a distinction between information that is historical and that which is purely speculative (as much of Shakespeare's personal history must be).
This approach to "Twelfth Night" might be an excellent way to prepare for seeing a production of the play and is of interest to anyone wanting to experience it in considerable depth. Like others in the series, "Twelfth Night: Shakespeare Appreciated" is an obviously well-researched and well-executed effort. The experience might, however, require more commitment than the casual playgoer/reader wants.
Oh, I was looking forward to this. I'm a great Shakespeare fan, and I had read a great deal about this unique solo performance. Thought I'd take a chance that something of the brilliance of this particular stage event would come through in the listening.
And, largely, it did! There just seems to be nothing that Alan Cumming cannot do! Of course, there's a bit of confusion here in not being able to watch his face and manner as he makes all the transformations, but, if you're pretty familiar with "Macbeth", it's worth the effort to imagine what it must have been like to see Cumming do it live. My greatest frustration in the listen was in fact this regret that I couldn't attend in person. Hope there will be a DVD, but I have no regrets in buying the Audible version of Cumming's "Macbeth".
This two-play compendium is thoroughly wonderful. If you enjoyed the "History Boys," Bennett's most recent hit play, now a hard-to-find (and excellent) movie, you will love these two one-acters. Both deal outwardly with the English spy scandals of the '50s and '60. "An Englishman Abroad" deals with Burgess in Moscow, and "A Question of Attribution" with "the fourth man" identified as Anthony Blunt in his capacity of curator of the Queen's pictures. However, the subject is really just a means of allowing Bennett to use his facility for charmingly glib dialog expressing thoughts about art, history, patriotism, and other interesting topics. The actors, a group of reliably splendid English performers, are delightful. In particular, Prunella Scales, as the Queen in "A Question of Attribution," is particularly memorable. Buy and enjoy again and again!