Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Just finished reading The Shakespeare Riots; Revenge, Drama and Death in Nineteeth-Century America by Nigel Cliff. May I say...WONDERFUL!!!?!!

In brief, the book explores the Astor Place Riot of 1849. The riot took place in New York City ostensibly over two different approaches to Shakespeare's plays. On one side, American Tragedian Edwin Forrest; on the other the English Tragedian William Charles Macready. Note the nationalities -- one of the real reasons the riots took place.

I know several of you are rolling your eyes at what you percieve to be a non-fiction history book. Yes, it is that...and so much more. Nigel Cliff has crafted a story out of all the diverse motivations that went into that culminating event. His knowledge of not only nineteenth-century theater but of the everyday lives of all the participants makes you forget you're not reading a novel. By the end of the book, you care about the two great actors and get genuinely angry at the mob and the nobility-wannabees that push events to the brink of disaster and then over it.

The only negative comment I have has to do with the actual riots themselves. After so many chapters, so many pages dedicated to the rising action and the events that lead to that fateful night, I wanted more description, more time dwelling on the riot itself. While Cliff does a good job, the rest of the book made me want a great job. As a result, the climax was...well...anticlimactic in my eyes.

Love, revenge, national pride, friendship and politics all get their due in this book. I heartily recommend
The Shakespeare Riots!
Hey...you can't say my tastes in reading aren't eclectic!

Play safe,

No comments: