To help you get the most out of Shakespeare, the narrator offers historical insights and background information, so you can enjoy the jokes, appreciate the references, and get a real sense of Shakespeare's world. The unabridged drama is also presented without commentary.
If school turned you off Shakespeare, find out what you've been missing all these years with this beautifully crafted audio presentation.
From the creators of SmartPass audio education study guides, voted third in a national poll to find the UK's favourite audibook (2008). Winners of 3 Spoken Word Awards for Best Drama (2004), Best Original Audio and Best Publishing Initiative (2005).
©2007 SmartPass Ltd; (P)2007 SmartPass Ltd
I am not a Shakespeare-nut. The format with an involved narrator made all the difference for me. The characters and background noise make it fun, the narration sets the location and explains the details.
My husband and I listened together to this annotated Lear in preparation for seeing it this summer. We liked it very much. One might argue that it is a little childish to have an explanation of the plot after every few lines, but it really helped us keep track of everything and to grasp, for example, all of the Fool's innuendos. We have loved the play a long time but the lively (if occasionally slightly overwrought) explanations between the lines put it into historical context and made it accessible to me in a whole new way. I recommend it.
This was an excellent production of King Lear. The download includes two files, one with commentary throughout and a second file that is the play without commentary, allowing the listener to decide how much explanation is desired. I listened with the commentator and she does a great job of setting the scene before the play begins, provides a good overview of Shakespeare and his time period, and then provides a expert "translation" of the text. This series would be especially helpful to those studying Shakespeare in school. I listened to this in conjunction with Bill Bryson's book Shakespeare.
I was initially worried that the "Shakespeare appreciated" series would dumb the play down. However, after listening to their production of King Lear, I am very enthusiastic about the project. I especially appreciate that the guide doesn't stick to only explaining archaic terminology, but also notes many of the more subtle themes that run through the play and describes how specific passages advance these undercurrents. The addition then-contemporary references and allusions to then-topical events and scandals is a nice touch.
The guide's relatively frequent interjections and scene analysis was helpful even beyond their informative content, as they made it much easier to follow which characters are active in a given scene. Otherwise, you have to remember fairly subtle voice differentiations - difficult if you are listening to the play in moderate intervals.
I appreciate that the file seems to have both annotated and non-annotated readings.
The commentary does its job, which is to explain in simpler language what might be hard to understand in the original text of the play.
I thought the narrator was too overexcited about every single scene. Her lively tone of voice seemed more appropriate for a naturalist talking excitedly at the camera as she comments on gorillas in the wild doing unusual things right next to her. Not enough to irritate me, but I feel some people might either love or hate it.
As for the actors voices in the play, it's not like the Royal Shakespeare Company live, but it's good enough for me.
You can either listen to the actors performing the text (with the perky narrator giving you the stage directions), or listen to the actors followed by explanation/interpretation of the text that was just performed.
I don't know how it compares to similar audiobooks, but I think the this particular audiobook is meant for school or university students who'd like to understand what's going on in the play.
I found this oral theatrical reading of the play, along with interspersed analysis ala Cliffnotes style, to be a fantastic way to consume Shakespeare. No more tedious cross referencing footnotes. No more struggling with the language. Just an entertaining reading of a fantastic play with a solid dose of background and history to expand one's appreciation of a genius' work.
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