December 10, 2013 Leave a comment
So I decided to break up my reading of epic, long narratives (see my Murakami reviews 1 and 2) with a couple of short plays. These works only take a day or so to read but are also capable of great depth. I chose a couple off of my bookshelf that I had been looking forward to reading and read both within this week. Though both are famous and well established in theatric tradition I found one much more compelling than the other. Both plays are explore very different concepts and though both consist of ideas I am interested in, it was in one I found my attention most held, when I expected to be captured more by the other.
It was Endgame that let me down. One of Samuel Beckett’s most prominent works, Endgame to me was a little too vague to get to grips with. Having read the text before reading interpretations afterwards, I feel now with the benefit of hindsight, little difference in my opinion. Though Endgame does possess that certain jour ne se quais that makes great writing great, it for me lacked some style in the writing and more importantly, a plot which compelled me. I don’t like speaking ill of the classics for I feel ignorant when I do – of course I do not know everything, how could I? – but on a personal level I found Endgame lacking a certain something. Perhaps its reputation preceded it, perhaps it’s too prestigious a work in the zeitgeist to ever live up to it’s name in reality, I cannot say for sure.
Ultimately though I am left feeling indifferent. Endgame is a play which was perfectly fine, and perhaps is better on the stage than in print, but for me – approaching it as a reader – I cannot strongly recommend it.
A Dolls House however, was a delight. Henrik Ibsen’s classic play was a joy to read, it too possessed that certain something that makes great writing great, but possessed also a story and characters I cared about. I don’t want to give away the plot for people that haven’t read or seen this work but I will concede that Ibsen’s play is now rather dated. What made such an impact in the 1870’s will not get much of a reaction now. However, the strength, power and energy of this play still carry across excellently. I think the shift in attitudes and character from Act I to Act II are a little blunt but ultimately do not inhibit the overall excellence of Ibsen’s writing of family and of strong female protagonists.
A Dolls House in some ways is easier to highlight flaws in, though in this review I have only hinted at a few. I think though that with plays being read as manuscripts we must to some extent acknowledge the shift in perceptions when enjoying stories across forms. And perhaps more importantly than that, we cannot always say why it is that we like some works more than others, and perhaps that is the case here.
I just really enjoyed it.