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"Men's evil manners live in brass; their virtues we write in water."
- Shakespeare & Fletcher, Henry VIII
What do you get when you co-write a play and the other guy phones-it-in? What do you do when the other guy is William Shakespeare and his phoned-in stuff is still better than most writing you've seen or your own writing? I guess you just do what you do, write your scenes, work hard, and shut up. Here are my three main knocks against this play:
1. Phoned-in by the Bard (see also Cymbeline).
2. Co-written by John Fletcher (see also The Two Noble Kinsmen)
3. Quasi-propaganda crap for the Tudors see also ("Too soon?, Too soon?").
For those interested, according to Erdman and Fogel in 'Evidence for Authorship: Essays on Problems of Attribution,' the breakdown of authorship for this play is the following:
Shakespeare: Act I, scenes i and ii; II,iii and iv; III,ii, lines 1–203 (to exit of King); V,i.
Fletcher: Prologue; I,iii; II,i and ii; III,i, and ii, 203–458 (after exit of King); IV,i and ii; V ii–v; Epilogue.
Anyway, the play is so bad it basically destroyed the Globe Theatre.* I kid, I kid.
"Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot
That it do singe yourself.” (Act 1, Scene 1)
"I have touched the highest point of all my greatness;
And from that full meridian of my glory
I haste now to my setting: I shall fall
Like a bright exhalation in the evening,
And no man see me more.” (Act 3, Scene 2)
"Press not a falling man too far!” (Act 3, Scene 2)
“We all are men, in our own natures frail, and capable of our flesh; few are angels.” (Act 5, Scene 2).
*Technically, it was a canon shot during the play that caught the thatched roof on fire, but give me a bit of poetic license here.
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