ORG XMIT: *S0426826708* LONDON - MARCH 09: A painting of William Shakespeare which is believed to be the only authentic image of Shakespeare made during his life is unveiled by The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust on March 9, 2009 in London, England. The recently discovered painting, which is believed to date from around 1610, depicts Shakespeare in his mid-forties. The portrait is due to go on display at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon on April 23, 2009. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images) 03212010xGUIDESUNDAY

Are you sure

That we are awake?

It seems to me

That yet we sleep, we dream

At the moment of writing I really have to wonder that, although I often think this quote from Midsummer Night’s Dream refers to the whole of life. Maybe one day I’ll wake up, although I suspect that might be the day I die.

Shakespeare invokes a multitude of emotions in the breasts of most people who have heard of him. He seems to be one of those things (like marmite) that you either love or hate.

One of my son’s tutor despises him because he had been forced not only to learn Shakespeare but to teach him for many years. Another tutor loves him because even though she has also taught Shakespeare for many years she has not only seen the beauty in the word but also in the spark they evoke in enough of her pupils to make the whole thing worthwhile. A matter of approach, I think.

 When I was growing up – more, I suppose where I was growing up – Shakespeare was for swots and posh people. It wasn’t wise to admit to reading him outside lessons. However, when I was around fourteen I went to stay in London with a great aunt and one of cousins gave me a book – The Complete Works of Shakespeare – which started a lifelong love affair.

I have to admit at once that I haven’t read the whole book. However, I have read most of the plays and have my favourites. I am particularly in love with A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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Which contains one of my favourite characters. In fact he probably is my absolute favourite, and I believe any production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is made or broken on whether he is performed well. I am, of course, talking about the inimitable Puck. Oh how I adore him, and many of my characters, I think, have puckish qualities about them

Here are a few

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One of they is my favourite

Why do I like A Midsummer Night’s Dream so much? Because it’s magical, and I like magic. The images painted in my mind are so vivid and diverse and it gives me laughs and thrills and always leaves me with a smile. It’s like a pint of Guinness with a diamond in it. Froth on top, dark underneath with an absolute gem inside.

 

Another of my favourites which is more of the dark and less of the froth is Macbeth. Oh how I love, love, love that play. Who hasn’t mumbled ‘Double double toil and trouble under their breaths, or uttered the hallowed words “When shall we three meet again?” I love the witches. They are so wonderfully awful.

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And who couldn’t love that delicious Lady Macbeth and her dog, Spot. What do you mean it wasn’t a dog? And what do you mean she wasn’t trying to get him to go out for a pee in he middle of the night? Didn’t she say “Out, damn’d spot! out, I say!” She’s totally bonkers, you know, and that just makes her all the more appealing

 

The final play I want to mention is Romeo and Juliet. Not because it’s one of my favourites, far from it, but because my son is currently studying it, as are millions of other teenagers, and it makes me giggle. There are arguments raging about whether it is a romance or a tragedy. Girls swoon, boys snigger and no one really talks about the fact that this Juliet who’s so lusted over is only thirteen.

Ah Romeo and Juliet, the most misquoted play and an exalted example of insta love. If anyone complains that your characters fall in love too quickly then point them Shakespeare’s way. Romeo goes from being utterly besotted with one woman, to being madly in love with another, in about five minutes. Within two days, he’s married her, bedded her and killed himself over her. Come to think of it, it’s a pretty good example of why insta love is a very bad idea.

I have to wonder, if Romeo and Juliet had survived, whether they would have stayed together, or at least happily together, for long. I can see Romeo down the pub with his mates (or sleeping with various women he’s fallen for) while Juliet nurses the baby and tells anyone who will listen how she was once almost a countess.

They make a cute couple though, so I’ll go out with some images. Because I love anime and because I can, enjoy some Romeo X Juliet

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and cute chibi

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