Each word of this production builds a picture of richness and complexity of Shakespeare's characters. The clarity of radio gives added poignancy to the young Prince's struggles and greater depth to Falstaff's exuberance.
Revitalised, original, and comprehensive, this is Shakespeare for the new millennium.
© and (P)1999 BBC Worldwide Ltd
Invariably, and inexcusably, BBC shortens Shakespeare, and they apply an ax rather than a scalpel. This is a particularly egregious example. As one would expect, the introducer emphasizes the genius that Falstaff represents as a comic creation, and he tells us: "It is said, that Elizabethan audiences used to stop cracking their nuts when Falstaff came on stage, so as not to miss a syllable. They had the right idea." To give you just an example: In Act I, scene two, 55 lines of a total of 215 are omitted, 30 of which are Falstaff's.
This is not slightly abridging; it is butchery.
I enjoyed this radio production. The only weak points for me concern abridgment. The performance is slightly abridged which isn't generally a problem, although surprisingly the performance omits Hotspur's famous boast in Act one, scene three (By heaven methinks...). Also the Audible website does not appear to have the full list of actors.
I enjoyed this audio play, but I still prefer the Arkangel version. Both have the Glovers as the two kings. The biggest difference is the Falstaff. Both are good, but the Falstaff of Richard Griffiths seems much more vibrant and alive. Overall, this recording seems more contrived and remote, like the difference between a movie and a live play.
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