Telling his followers he is leaving the city on affairs of state, the Duke of Vienna appoints the puritanical Angelo to govern in his absence. Will Angelo prove as virtuous as he seems once power is in his hands? Roaming the city disguised as a friar, the duke looks on as Angelo's lust for the virtuous Isabella sweeps him into the corruption he has so sternly condemned in others. The duke's manipulation at last produces a happy ending for this dark comedy, with its brilliant exploration of the themes of justice and mercy.
Young Claudio has fallen for the lovely heiress Hero, who also loves him. Their path to the altar looks smooth, until the evil Don John intervenes. All ends happily, thanks to his incompetent assassins and the lucky discoveries of the bungling constable Dogberry. Central to the play, one of Shakespeare's best-loved comedies, are Beatrice and Benedick, masters of wit and sworn foes to marriage - until a plot is hatched to bring them together.
Paul Scofield, Siobhan McKenna and John Neville perform Twelfth Night. This is Shakespeare's comedy of gender confusion, in which a girl disguises herself as a man to be near the count she adores - only to be pursued by the woman he loves.
"Loved it "
King Leontes of Sicilia is seized by sudden and terrible jealousy of his wife Hermione, whom he accuses of adultery. He believes the child Hermione is bearing was fathered by his friend Polixenes, and when the baby girl is born he orders her to be taken to some wild place and left to die. Though Hermione's child escapes death, Leontes' cruelty has terrible consequences. Loss paves the way for reunion, and life and hope are born out of desolation and despair.
"Exit, pursued by a bear!"
The dissolute Falstaff plans to seduce Mistress Ford and Mistress Page, two "Merry Wives of Windsor," there by gaining access to their husbands' wealth. The two women have the old rogue's measure, however, and Falstaff's plots lead only to his own humiliation. But the merry wives themselves fall prey to plotting as their plans to prevent Mistress Page's daughter Anne from marrying the young man she loves are frustrated in their turn.
"So much fun!"
Chaos and confusion mount to a crescendo in a wild and fast-paced comedy of mistaken identity, one of Shakespeare's earliest plays. Young Antipholus of Syracuse is searching the world for his identical twin brother, separated from him at birth. With him is his servant Dromio, who lost his twin brother at the same time. The pair arrive in Ephesus where, unbeknownst to them, their twins are living.
Padua holds many suitors for the hand of fair Bianca, but Bianca may not be married until her spinster sister, Kate, is wed. Could any man be rash enough to take on Kate? The witty adventurer Petruchio undertakes the task. While he sets about transforming Kate from foul-tempered termagant to loving wife, young Lucentio and his clever servant, Tranio, plot to win Bianca.
Imogen, the daughter of King Cymbeline, is persecuted by her wicked stepmother, the Queen, and by Cloten, the Queen's doltish son. Disguised as a boy, she sets out to find her husband, the banished Posthumus. On her journey, she unwittingly meets her two brothers, stolen from the court as infants. Posthumus, meanwhile, has been convinced by the villainous Iachimo that Imogen is unchaste and agrees to a test of her faithfulness.
"A fine performance"
Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston star in Shakespeare's tragedy of love and power. As part of BBC Radio 3's celebration of the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare, Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston star in this brand-new production. Lovers, politicians, superstars... Antony & Cleopatra is Shakespeare’s late and epic tragedy of mature love, and the catastrophic fall from grace and power that it brings about.
Proteus loves Julia in Verona, Valentine loves Silvia in Milan. But when Proteus meets Silvia, he falls for her too, and the heartbroken Julia sets out in pursuit. This delightful and sometimes disquieting early comedy of love lost and found offers lyrical poetry, disguise, clowning, outlaws, and a most unreliable dog.
The young king of Navarre and three of his courtiers have vowed to lock themselves away for three years of study and fasting, and to forswear the company of women for this period. No sooner is their vow made than it is tested, however, as the princess of France and three of her ladies arrive in Navarre on a diplomatic mission. The young men fall instantly and hopelessly in love, and the tension between their vow and their passion forms the subject of this charming and sparkling early comedy.
"Cast list? Scene breaks?"
The all-conquering King Henry V is dead and the throne is occupied by his infant son, Henry VI. The good Duke Humphrey of Gloucester has been appointed protector, but a struggle for power soon develops between the young king's Lancastrian relatives and the powerful house of York under Richard Plantagenet. Meanwhile the French, led by Joan of Arc, the maid of Orleans, threaten to win back the territories lost to Henry V.
"Action-packed, crowded with characters"
Troy is besieged by the invading Greeks, but the young Trojan prince Troilus can think only of his love for Cressida. Her uncle Pandarus brings the two together, but after only one night news comes that Cressida must be sent to the enemy camp. There, as Troilus looks on, she yields to the wooing of the Greek Diomedes. The tragic story is undercut by the commentary of Thersites, who provides a cynical chorus.
While King Henry's England is threatened by rebellion, the king's scapegrace son Hal haunts the taverns of London, his companions a crew of rogues and thieves let by Falstaff. The earl of Northumberland and his fiery son Hotspur scheme to overthrow the crown. Can Hal be brought to a sense of duty as Prince of Wales? Or will the influence of Falstaff prove too strong? The issue is decided when Hal, Hotspur, and Falstaff come together at the climactic battle of Shrewsbury.
"Chapters Mixed up"
The Yorkists have been temporarily victorious and the Duke of York has assumed the throne, but the Lancastrians, led by Queen Margaret, counter-attack. As the fortunes of war shift, both the innocent and the guilty are swept up in the maelstrom. And increasingly dominant amid the chaos is the sinister figure of the crook-backed Richard, Duke of Gloucester.
"One of my favorites"
This shattering drama of isolation and loss is one of the greatest tragedies in world literature. King Lear of Britain has three daughters: the hard-hearted Goneril and Regan, and the good and gentle Cordelia. He determines to divide his kingdom between them, giving the largest share to she who can say she loves him the best. Lear's tragic lack of judgment and self-knowledge is paralleled by the blindness of the loyal Gloucester who is persuaded to reject his virtuous son, Edgar, in favor of the villainous Edmund.
"A tale of pain and loss"
Rosalind, daughter of the deposed Duke Senior, is exiled from the court by her wicked uncle. Disguising herself as a young man and accompanied by her cousin Celia, she takes refuge in the Forest of Arden. In the forest Rosalind meets Orlando with whom she is in love, but her male disguise complicates matters, especially when Rosalind finds she has unwittingly attracted the shepherdess Phebe. But out of the confusion comes reconciliation and forgiveness, and all ends happily.
"Incredibly Easy To Follow"
The fabulously rich Timon believes all his friends to be as open-hearted and generous as himself. When his wealth suddenly evaporates, however, he discovers the truth and his altruism turns to a bitter hatred of mankind. Stirred up by the cynical Apemantus, Timon retreats to the woods where he plots the destruction of Athens, the city that had formerly seemed to embody everything pleasurable and civilized. The cosmic scope of his hatred is communicated in a series of powerful and disturbing dramatic tableaux.
In Shakespeare's most controversial play, the opposing values of justice and mercy must be resolved. Antonio promises money to help his friend Bassanio woo Portia. He borrows the sum needed from the cruel Shylock, but there will be a dreadful penalty if the loan is not repaid. The golden world of Portia's Belmont calls forth some of Shakespeare's most lyrical love poetry. But the dark shadow of Shylock is never far from the heart of this brilliant comedy as it moves toward its courtroom climax.
"One Of Shakespeare's Best"
King John of England is pitted against the united powers of France, Brittany, Austria, and the Papacy. Will England be destroyed by his fatal indecision? As alliances are made, broken, and remade, the paranoid and erratic John reveals his weakness and reliance on those around him - including his powerful mother, Queen Elinor, and Faulconbridge, the cynical and witty bastard son of the dead King Richard I.
"Good production of an inept play"
At the heart of this tragic history is one of Shakespeare's most noble characters, the statesman Brutus, who is caught in a devastating conflict between private affection and public duty.
Julius Caesar has become the most powerful man in the Rome. Does his power now threaten the very existence of the Republic itself? A conspiracy is hatched, one that will have fatal consequences not only for Caesar and the conspirators but for the future history of the ancient world.
In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare stages the workings of love in unexpected ways. In the woods outside Athens, two young men and two young women sort themselves into couples - but not before they form first one love triangle, and then another. The king and queen of fairyland, Oberon and Titania, battle over custody of an orphan boy. Oberon uses magic to make Titania fall in love with a weaver named Bottom, in an effort to distract Titania from the custody battle.
"Great for Reading along to the Folger edition!"
Othello, a Moorish general in the service of Venice, has married Desdemona, beautiful daughter of a Venetian senator. But Iago, Othello's malignant ensign, is determined to destroy their happiness. Cunningly bending Othello to his own purposes, Iago persuades the Moor that Desdemona is unfaithful to him. Tormented in a hell of jealousy, Othello moves inexorably toward the destruction of his innocent wife and himself.
"A good but rather histrionic introduction to experiencing Othello"
Rebellion still simmers in England and King Henry's health is failing. Prince Hal has proved his courage but the king still fears that his son's pleasure-loving nature will bring the realm to ruin. Meanwhile, Falstaff and his ribald companions waste the nights in revelry, anticipating the moment when Hal will ascend the throne. Falstaff is in Gloucestershire when news arrives that the king has died. Has the dissolute old knight's hour come at last?
The complete play in five acts.
William Shakespeare lived between 1552-1616, but his work endures and is enjoyed the world over.
©1965, 1989, 1994 HarperCollins Publishers
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