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William Shakespeare may have been the greatest playwright in the English language, but how does he measure up as a historian? In this brilliant comparison between the events and characters in Shakespeare's history plays and the actual events that inspired them, acclaimed historian John Julius Norwich examines the nine works that together amount to an epic masterpiece on England's most fascinating period.
"shakeseare's delusions better"
This classic Shakespearean comedy is presented here in a colorful full-cast dramatization, drawn from the complete text and starring Warren Mitchell, Michael Maloney, and Sarah Woodward.
This drama is a retelling of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy, made accessible to younger listeners but still true to the Bard's original style and vocabulary. On a dark heath, Macbeth stumbles across three witches who can see into the future. What he hears will change everything. Encouraged by his wife, he decides to kill in order to gain the Scottish crown. How many people will die in his pursuit of power? With armies, ghosts and magic against him, will Macbeth survive in this tale of greed and betrayal?
A violent storm shipwrecks the King of Naples and his noblemen on what appears to be an uninhabited island. They don't know that they have been brought here by powerful magic. Prospero, the mysterious ruler of the island, has a plan, but will he use his magic for revenge or for reconciliation? His daughter, Miranda, has never seen another man except her father. What will she think of the stranger who stumbles into her life? Will Propsero's monstrous servant, Caliban, succeed in overthrowing his master?
Hamlet, which dates from 1600-1601, is the first in Shakespeare's great series of four tragedies. In writing this extraordinary play, Shakespeare effectively re-invented tragedy after an interval of roughly 2,000 years - you would have to go back to the Greek dramatists of fifth century Athens to find anything of comparable depth and maturity. This production features the voice of Anton Lesser as Hamlet along with a full cast.
A retelling of Shakespeare's most famous comedy, made accessible to younger listeners but still true to the Bard's verse and vocabulary. Mischief is in the air when the King and Queen of the Fairies quarrel, and Puck is left in charge of the love potion. Four young people are lost in the woods on midsummer's night. Will they find each other and true love, or will Puck's meddling leave them broken hearted and alone?
Henry V, which dates from 1599, is the last in Shakespeare's series of plays based on English history. It is also, of course, among the Bard's best-known and most-performed works. It's given rich new life here by a full-cast presentation that combines classic literature with classical music.
"take a soldier"
Shakespeare's celebrated tragedy made accessible as drama for younger listeners whilst remaining true to the Bard's verse and vocabulary. What could be worse than falling in love with your enemy? Romeo Montague thinks he's in love until he meets Juliet Capulet. With her, he discovers what true love really feels like. But their two families are bitter rivals, and no one must know about their secret passion. When Romeo kills Juliet's cousin in a brawl, their hopes of happiness seem doomed.
"Not so child friendly"
Not sure that a modernized movie-version of Hamlet is your goblet of tea? Hear Frank Muller, the preeminent narrator of the audiobook world, play every part in arguably the best audio version of Hamlet available.
A tragedy, a comedy, and a history all rolled into one, the story of the tyrannical Richard III ranks among Shakespeare's most popular plays. Opening with the famous "Now is the winter of our discontent" soliloquy, this masterful work follows its antihero as he plots to steal the throne of England, causing murder and mayhem all along the way. A full cast, including Robert Stephens and Dame Peggy Ashcroft, brings this devilishly entertaining work to life.
Now, for the first time in audio, Blackstone presents seven great plays in one volume: Euripides' Medea, Shakespeare's The Tempest, Moliere's The Imaginary Invalid, Dumas' Camille, Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, Shaw's Arms and the Man, and Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. These productions illustrate the development of European drama from ancient times to the threshold of the modern theater.
"Badly Done Plays"
Twelfth Night, nowadays one of Shakespeare's best-loved and most-admired comedies, was not always so regarded: Samuel Pepys saw the play three times in the 1660s and judged it 'silly'. Modern audiences, critics, and directors seem better attuned to its delicate counter pointing of romance and realism....
Here is the full-cast production of Shakespeare's classic love story, fully dramatized from the complete text, and starring Michael Sheen as Romeo and Kate Beckinsale as Juliet.
"Sound Quality is the only drawback"
A king's mad jealousy tears his family apart in this rich, tragicomic play, one of Shakespeare's last. When King Leontes suspects his wife, Hermione, has been unfaithful, he sends her to prison, where she gives birth to a daughter. Assuming the baby is not his, Leontes orders that she be left to die on a desert shore. He spends the next 16 years grieving over his error, until the fateful day his long-lost daughter Perdita returns.
By the time Shakespeare came to write Macbeth - almost certainly in 1605/1606 - he had already completed three of the great tragedies with which modern audiences are so familiar: Hamlet (1601), Othello (1603), and King Lear (1605). Each of those plays gives us an eponymous hero who is in some significant way flawed, but for whom we also inevitably feel deep sympathy, whatever his errors or crimes. But in MacBeth, Shakespeare has chosen for his tragic hero a man guilty of the most terrible crime imaginable to a Jacobean audience, that of regicide - the murder of a king.
"Fire burn and cauldron bubble - an excellent stew"
The first volume of David Timson's series retelling of the stories from Shakespeare's plays was widely praised by newspaper and educators alike. Here is volume 2, with more key plays. Including Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice, and Henry IV, all texts which regularly appear on the exam syllabus. As before, the stories are illustrated by numerous examples from the plays themselves. They are read by two leading Shakespearean actors, Juliet Stevenson and Alex Jennings.
Biography captures the life of the Bard using clips from films of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Laurence Olivier's Hamlet, and other dramatic readings.
"To Be or Not To Be....."
"Great play, acting not bad"
"All the world's a stage...." In the enchanted forest of Arden, everyone has their way. Sins are forgiven, quarrels are resolved, and love rules over all. And - just as the author liked it - the frolic of clowns and comedy includes provocative insight into nature versus society and into humanity itself. Follow Orlando, Celia, Rosalind, and Touchstone the Clown from court to forest in this play that features disguised princesses, an unjustly deposed ruler, and a handsome leading couple. Actors Vanessa Redgrave (Rosalind) and Keith Michell (Orlando) head the cast of celebrity performers in this Shakespearean romp of mischief, intrigue, and surprise.
"sometimes, oldest is best"
Sir John Falstaff, the lovable rogue, is brought back from his death in Henry V to set this farce in motion. Falstaff (Anthony Quayle), finding himself in need of funds, attempts to seduce 2 wealthy young ladies, Mistress Ford (Joyce Redman) and Mistress Page (June Jago). Alas, the scoundrel's money-making scheme goes awry when he sends the ladies - who are friends - identical love letters. The 2 women retaliate by plotting his downfall - with hilarious results.