Finished: Dec. 25, 2011
First Published: Aug. 1, 2011
Publisher: Stone Arch Books
Genre: children, YA, graphic novel, classic, play, comedy
Ancient Greece, in the palace of Theseus, the Duke of Athens...Acquired: Received a review copy from Capstone Press.
"Fair Hippolyta, in four days we shall be married!"
Reason for Reading: I enjoy retellings of Shakespeare rather than reading the olde English (which I did plenty of at one time.) I've read a couple of children's retellings of this play, and seen the old b/w version of the movie with Mickey Rooney plus seen it performed live once. I cannot recall if I've read the original play.
As to the original story, I am only somewhat partial to it. I guess you could say it fits in the middle group of the Shakespeare plays I love, I think are OK, and I hate. This one can be quite confusing since it is two stories in one containing a play within a play. The main story is set in Ancient Greece and revolves around two couples in love, though not happily paired off, more of a triangle with an odd man out. These characters' king and queen are being entertained by a troupe of players who are putting on a play which is based on "Pyramus and Thisbe" (the same play Shakespeare based Romeo and Juliet upon). Both the star-crossed lovers and the troupe players enter the woods and get caught up in the faerie realm where tricks are played, go wrong and cause much confusion, as typical in a Shakespeare comedy.
This is a very nice retelling. The format is well done with a two page spread showing the main characters to start off with. Divisions separating the play into the original five acts and an informational note at the end on the "History Behind the Play". The writing, while adapted for young readers, keeps the formality of the original and keeps the prose poetic even though no longer in verse. One must keep one's wits about them to keep the story in order as a lot goes on in this play while keeping the s*xuality of the original at bay. I love the illustrations in this adaptation; they are bold, bright and farcical, while many of the characters have a slight manga look about them which all goes toward making the book visually appealing. This would be an excellent resource to use along side the study of the original play for older ages. The younger end of the age group would do well to read a short summary of the play first perhaps by the Lambs or Nesbit.