You are on page 1of 3



Arthuriana, Volume 20, Number 4, Winter 2010, pp. 104-105 (Article)


For additional information about this article

Access provided by National Library Kolkata (5 Aug 2015 13:22 GMT)



as being no more than loose thematic groupings rather than a re-introduction of the
traditional disciplinary boundaries which Driver and Ray expressly sought to avoid.
Consequently, the collection only suffers from the increasingly common problem
of unifying essays which adhere to different disciplinary conventions (how, for
instance, can Linda Schuberts essay on music be seamlessly matched to Catherine
Loomis historical overview of Falstaff in America?), though the editors general
introduction does offer a useful Ariadne thread to negotiate such tricky passages.
On balance, however, the potential disjuncture is more than compensated by the
breadth of scope which the multi-disciplinary backgrounds afford, and the editors
introductions to each section deftly combine the disparate elements into as united
a whole as is possible.
Overall, amid a slew of new and forthcoming collections which often seem to
use a cross-disciplinary approach merely for the sake of diversity (and, one cynically
wonders, a wider potential market for the work), Driver and Rays innovative reevaluation of Shakespeares relationship to the Middle Ages comes as a refreshing
antidote. In the same way as their earlier Medieval Hero on Screen brought into play
hitherto unexamined medieval heroes such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the collection
reaches out beyond the immediate topic, engaging a wider audience to show that
the sum of its parts is truly greater than the whole. The various studies, despite (or
perhaps because of ) their multifaceted approach, ultimately demonstrate how a
well-conceived and carefully crafted collection can create a genuine contribution
to (and rethinking of ) the existing body of literature on the subject. To paraphrase
the learned Polonius, though the different voices may risk madness, there is most
certainly method at work here.
andrew b.r. elliott
University of Lincoln (United Kingdom)

Martha W. Driver and Sid Ray have assembled a strong collection about Shakespeare
in performance by asking their contributors to focus on how his plays evoke and
transform their medieval elements. Because Shakespeare was at once immersed in
the residual medieval modes present in early modern English culture and himself
an interpreter of the medieval past, productions of his plays contribute to the
development and deconstruction of medievalism.
The collections foreword is a discussion between dramatist Dakin Mathews and
Michael Almereyda, director of Hamlet 2000, about the film and medieval theater.
Martha Driver and Sid Rays General Introduction provides a summary of the
volume, which is divided into four sections: Part 1, the Histories; Part 2, the Tragedies;
Part 3, the Comedies; and Part 4, the Romances. Driver and Ray also contribute
short, helpful introductions for each section.
Within Part 1, the strongest essay is Jim Caseys discussion of the history of the
wooing of Queen Anne in Richards Himself Again: The Body of Richard III
on Stage and Screen. Casey discusses Laurence Oliviers film version of Richard
compared to the Richard Loncraine and Ian McKellen version. Although Casey finds

07_ReviewsArthuriana20.4.indd 104

11/11/10 1:40 AM



McKellen lacking Oliviers sex appeal, he acknowledges that his Richard offers the
dispossessed widow a fantasy of masculine power (39). I would add that Loncraine,
who has stressed all along Annes increasing vulnerability as her husband dies, sets
her up to receive Richards horrific advances. Also of particular interest in the section
on the histories is musicologist Linda K. Schuberts Scoring the Fields of the Dead:
Musical Styles and Approaches to Postbattle Scenes from Henry V (1944, 1989).
Part 2, the Tragedies, opens with Carl James Grindleys Were Everyone You
Depend On: Filming Shakespeares Peasants. By examining Romeo and Juliet in the
versions of Franco Zefferelli and Baz Luhrmann, Grindley traces how Shakespeares
tendency to collapse the lower working classes while focusing on the tragic
individuality of elites (89) persists in our contemporary Shakespeare. This tendency,
however, is undermined in John Maddens Shakespeare in Love, in which commoners
triumph at the expense of Colin Firths Wessex. Patrick Cooks Medieval Hamlet
in Performance and Sid Rays Finding Gruoch: The Hidden Genealogy of Lady
Macbeth in Text and Cinematic Performance round out this section. Cook ably
discusses Zefferellis use of a Norman environment for his Hamlet, which includes
Ophelias embroidery of the Bayeux Tapestry. By examining the possible histories of
Lady Macbethin one chronicle Gruoch; in others, the mother of a son, Lulach,
with an earlier husbandRay examines the degree to which the personal history
of Lady Macbeth is acknowledged in the films of Orson Welles, Roman Polanski,
and in the related Heights (2005), directed by Chris Terrio, with Glenn Close in the
Lady Macbeth role.
In Part 3, the Comedies, Martha Drivers Reading A Midsummer Nights Dream
through Middle English Romance considers Chaucer as the plays source. Julia
Ruth Briggs elucidates the relation of Chaucer and Robert Henrysons works to
Shakespeares Two Noble Kinsmen and Troilus and Cressida. These essays are strong but
held fewer surprises for me after having taught successive seminars on Chaucer and
Shakespeare. Gary Waller discusses the medieval romance traditions in Shakespeares
Virgin Mother on the Modern Stage, which includes a helpful summary of the
performance history of Alls Well. Of special note in the fourth and final section of
Shakespeare and the Middle Ages is R. F. Yeagers Shakespeare as Medievalist: What
It Means for Performing Pericles, which argues that Shakespeare was influenced in
his choice of Gower as chorus by several sixteenth-century texts, including Robert
Greenes Greenes Vision (1592).
On the whole, Shakespeare and the Middle Ages provides fascinating reading
about the complex relations between Shakespeare and the medieval as revealed in
performance. Several of these essays contribute to our scholarly knowledge of the
history of performance on stage and screen, even as their clarity, ample illustrations,
and well-chosen bibliographies will lead me to suggest them to undergraduate and
graduate students alike.
susan c. frye
University of Wyoming

07_ReviewsArthuriana20.4.indd 105

11/11/10 1:40 AM