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Publisher's Summary

Three powerful radio productions from the BBC archives starring Ian McKellen, Ronald Pickup and Paul Scofield and a host of celebrated acting talent. These three legendary plays, performed by some of the best-known theatrical actors of the 20th century, are the perfect way to commemorate England's greatest dramatist.

Romeo and Juliet: the Montagues and the Capulets are sworn enemies, so when Romeo Montague falls in love with Juliet Capulet, tragedy ensues. This fateful tale of two young star-crossed lovers is one of Shakespeare's most popular dramas. First broadcast in 1970, starring Ian McKellen as Romeo.

Hamlet: one of the most powerful, influential and thrilling tragedies in the English language, and the story of Prince Hamlet and his quest for vengeance never fails to enthral. First broadcast in 1971, starring Ronald Pickup as the Prince of Denmark.

Macbeth: the notorious 'Scottish Play' is a gripping tale of vaulting ambition, witchcraft, madness and murder that has kept generations of audiences spellbound. First broadcast in 1966, starring Paul Scofield as Macbeth and Peggy Ashcroft as Lady Macbeth.

Recorded at BBC Broadcasting House and featuring the BBC Drama Repertory company, with specially composed music including a score from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, this is classic radio drama at its finest. Duration: 7 hours 30 mins approx.

©2016 BBC Worldwide Limited (P)2016 BBC Worldwide Limited

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Abridged

What did you like best about Classic BBC Radio Shakespeare: Tragedies? What did you like least?

I have not listened to all three plays, but Macbeth is definitely abridged. Lines are skipped over here and there and one whole scene was missing. Also, the delivery is laboriously slow in spots.

Would you recommend Classic BBC Radio Shakespeare: Tragedies to your friends? Why or why not?

I have listened to several other recordings of Shakespeare's plays and this is one of the worst.

Did the narrators do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

The characters were well voiced although I disagreed with some interpretations. That's Shakespeare for you.

Was Classic BBC Radio Shakespeare: Tragedies worth the listening time?

Unfortunately, I'd have to say this was not worth my time.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Troy
  • Boulder, United States Minor Outlying Islands
  • 09-11-18

To much sound variation

On stage, a dynamic range of volume is exciting. In my headphones, after cranking the volume to hear the whisper of some madman, the blasting trumpets of battle were too much. Also, while the performance was great, this isn't the sort of thing you can pick up to gain an exposure to Shakespeare. In a script or on stage you have done clue as to who is speaking. I enjoyed the one liners but I have no more understanding of the titles than when I started

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Some lines omitted and/or changed

It was a different version than what I am use to, but it was ok.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Sparknotes is genius.

As a first time Shakespeare "reader", I loved the storyline, but struggled because I was never clear on which voice beyond to which character. I ended up finding the best solution was to read the sparknotes plot overview then listen and I could follow along and appreciate the dialogue more.

6 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lewis Kane
  • 01-10-18

Think before buying this

I thoughtlessly bought this to hear some of the most popular Shakespeare stories, 2 of which I've never read or seen performed before.

This is a reading of the script, without the visuals of performers, the names you'd see if you were reading this or any familiarity with the stories, it is very difficult to follow and know which character says which line.

Only buy this if you know the stories well enough to know the characters in each scene, or at least have a very good ear for distinguishing Shakespearean actors who all sound similar. With that in mind, this could still be for you.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Barry Deri
  • 11-12-17

Terrible sound quality don't waste your time

Terrible sound quality don't waste your time. I was extremely disappointed, thus was another missed opportunity.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jordan raghnal
  • 04-29-17

Student piont of veiw

As a student it hells me grasp the way it can be presented to an audience such as my self

4 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Dave
  • 03-17-18

A difficult listen, it feels like school again

OK, so why did I download these tragedies if I don't like Shakespeare?
A good question, but I had been thinking that I'd been missing out on some great works of literature as everyone I talk to tells me how wonderful they are. To be honest, now that I've listened to just one, I'm not convinced.

I started with Romeo and Juliet.
We all know the story, rival families, boy & girl meet, families don't like it, two dead teenagers. (I think I'm ok for spoilers after 400 years)

Lets start with the story. It was OK. Yip, just ok. Nothing particularly great or gripping in it, no great characters, nobody particularly memorable at all in fact.
However, what I did find was that there were loads of common day phrases that have made their way into the English language that came from the play. "parting is such sweet sorrow", "What's in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet"
I'm not going to go on, yo get the drift.

The characters. Well, a couple of teenagers who fancy each other, their friends and families. Quite dull characters, even the principles.

The delivery. Hmmm, perhaps this is why I didn't really get it. On the stage there are people playing the different characters and it's quite clear who's who. In a book, it typically says "Romeo said..." But in a radio play, it's really difficult to figure out who's who. There's lots of background noise and effects which only detract.

OK, I'm not sold. But I will soldier on through the other three plays in this and update the review as I go.
For now though, it feels like I'm at school and being forced to read a dull book.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful