Much Ado About Comedy
Matt Lucas hosts this Radio 2 documentary about Shakespeare's comedies
- BBC Radio 2
- Matt Lucas, Michael Grandage, Lindsay Dukes, Catherine Tate, John Sessions, Fiona Shaw, Adam Long, Simon Russell Beale and others
- Hayley Redmond
Matt Lucas explores Shakespeare's comedies and examines whether they have an influence on current humour.
Today we interpret comedy from quite a different perspective than 400 years ago - comedy in that era, meant a happy ending. Now, we can use Shakespeare's comedies to greater comic effect, depending on the director and actors involved, and how they can convey his words for today's audiences. Director Michael Grandage explains how he translates the text from as fresh a perspective as possible.
Shakespeare's plays are seen as timeless because they deal with human issues still familiar today. His themes provoke comic reactions - from romance to confusion and chaos through mistaken identity and cross-dressing. In this programme, listeners will hear examples from his best-known comedies. And what did Shakespeare's "fools" represent back then and were they the stand-up comedians of their day? The fool was sometimes used to expose the vain, mock the pompous and deliver a few home truths, but he wasn't necessarily there for comic effect.
As The Reversed Shakespeare Company is launched, artistic director, Lindsay Dukes, shares her future plans of gender-swapping all of Shakespeare's characters to offer a fresh experience to the younger generation. The programme also hears about Ben Elton's new sitcom about William Shakespeare's life, Upstart Crow, and features contributions from Catherine Tate, John Sessions, Fiona Shaw, Adam Long and Simon Russell-Beale.
Matt says: "Shakespeare's comedies continue to be timeless because they tackle human issues that are still entirely familiar in the 21st Century. Slaying them in the aisles nearly half a millennium after they were written his comedy themes include romance, confusion and chaos through mistaken identity and cross-dressing, and of course his clever use of language and puns. He was a writer who dealt with the darkness of the soul but also brilliantly celebrated the light and certainly tickled our fancy..."