the shakespeare gap


Reading the deserved critical huzzahs for the current production of August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone has me thinking about a bee always in my bonnet. Critics swoon over the “poetry” of Wilson’s language–but Shakespearean language is equally poetic, and yet I suspect his poetry reaches far fewer of us across an entire evening than Wilson’s can, and the reason is language change and how hard a time we have dealing with it. One writer beautifully captures the mood of most audiences at Shakespeare performances as “reverently unreceptive,” “gratified that they have come, and gratified that they now may go.” One need only take a look at the faces in the lobby as the audience files out–the gray-haired gent’s polite grin, the thirty-something couple’s set jaws, the adolescent girl’s petulant weariness – with general interest oriented suspiciously more towards getting to the rest room and planning where to go for a bite than in discussing the play. I last noticed this at BAM’s Macbeth last year, as interesting a production as it was.

more from TNR here.