EVENT REVIEW: John Crace and John Sutherland: The Incomplete Shakespeare

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9th October
Palace Green Library
Review by Chase Miller


 Analysis of Shakespeare can be both difficult and easy in certain ways. On the one hand, the body of critical material means that it’s easy to access people’s modern interpretations of Shakespeare’s texts. On the other hand, any biographical interpretations are hard because Shakespeare lived so long ago, and we know relatively little about him as a person. Despite his plays’ modern relevancy, the language can be hard to understand for your average reader, and the deeper meanings are sometimes lost because of the cultural gap between Renaissance and modern England. That being said, John Crace and John Sutherland manage to interpret it in a way that is both interesting and entertaining; not only in the books they’ve written together, but also through their event at Durham Book Festival.

Their show/talk/comedy performance was undoubtedly funny. John Crace and John Sutherland were greeted when they came into the room – fashionably late of course – with a round of applause. Joining them onstage was also a Dr Patrick Gray who introduced, speculated and joined in the humour of the two authors.

And of course, there were two actors to play parodied scenes from plays including Romeo And Juliet, Macbeth and Much Ado about Nothing (among others) that had been adapted by John Crace. The acting was entertaining, and engaging, and between scenes acted from parodied versions of Hamlet, the two Johns and Dr Gray talked and speculated over the original play which made for an informative segment of the talk. Everyone on stage was engaging, and came across as genuinely interested and excited by their given topic.

Overall, The Incomplete Shakespeare as a series is interesting and informative, as well as genuinely funny at times. Indeed, the show I went to certainly didn’t disappoint.