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"Superb! A totally brilliant way to revise." (Daily Express)
"A wealth of useful material." (Times Educational Supplement)
After having thoroughly enjoyed the SmartPass Guide to MacBeth, I have now listened to King Lear as well. A much longer play, with a lot of complexity. The commentary version goes through the play in great detail. At some points, the play is significantly slowed down by it. However, once you listen to the full unabridged play without commentary afterwards, you can easily follow the main plot and all subplots, and you will start to appreciate the SmartPass help you received earlier on. King Lear is truly a Great Play by Shakespeare, it touches on many profound human emotions. The one element that annoyed me is the great emphasis on insanity (the Fool, Porton) which I think was "overdone". I personally favour MacBeth over King Lear. Looking forward to the next SmartPass Shakespeare play, probably I will go through Hamlet.
If one has never read Lear, or any other Shakespeare, maybe this voice-over Lear would be informative. If, on the other hand, you have a passing knowledge of the play, any of Shakespeare's other works, the history and manners of Elizabethan England, or even the English language, this reviewer suggests giving this recording a pass. This series must have been conceived for high school students and this text is marred by dumbed down writing and teacherly, slightly condescending narration. I didn't think it was possible to make Lear unlistenable, but Mister Reeves and Ms. Walker have succeeded.
My five star rating is for the play, which I consider Shakespeare's finest. The two stars are for the concept and execution of the voice-over narration.
This is a magnificent and entertaining audio program that truly makes a serious and complicated play accessible to anyone. My family listened to the play with commentary version of this program in preparation for seeing the play performed, and we all felt it made a world of difference in our appreciation of both the performance and the play. Strongly recommend!
I took a chance on this audio presentation by SmartPass based on listener reviews I read. I was not disappointed. The combination of play and commentary worked beautifully and kept me engaged and fascinated throughout. I will definitely download other SmartPass programs.
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