Michael Macrone

The Globe Sessions
(Entertainment Weekly, July 30, 1999)

The Bard suffers the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune in a boxed set that tragically forgets the play's the thing. By Ty Burr

The accompanying booklet offers little help, since there are no production dates or any other information about the selecitons. The last two CDs contain a fine, full performance of Romeo and Juliet with Claire Bloom and Albert Finney as the lovers—but from when? Staged where? The DeCaprio–Danes Romeo and Juliet reminds us that each pop-culture generation reinvents Shakespeare to suit its time, so it might have been nice to include an essay on how performances have varied over the years—on why Barrymore’s Hamlet, for instance, now sounds absurdly melodramatic while Robeson’s ahead-of-its-time Othello is a revelation of banked power. Instead, we get strained attempts to make the canon seem cool—“Romeo and Juliet would be excellent guests on any daytime talk show”; Titus Andronicus is “the Texas Chainsaw Massacre of its day”—and a smugly shallow précis of each play by noted scholar Michael Macrone (Naughty Shakespeare, Cader Books, 1997).

EW p68 EW p69

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