As much as I enjoy Shakespeare, I have to admit to having seen and heard and read aspects of it that make me shake my head and sigh in disappointment. Shakespeare was a product of his times, and as much as I acknowledge that he was progressive for his time, sometimes that means when you play it straight, it’s regressive for our time.
Does that make sense?
There are adaptations I’ve seen that could have been a touch better if they had adapted the parts that are now problematic to give more agency to other characters, or to subvert what is in the actual play. Shakespeare would not mind, I’m almost sure of it.
Two of the plays on this list are also on my previous list because as much as I always enjoy the retellings, there are aspects that I think need to be thought about before adapting.
- Much Ado About Nothing is on my instant to-read list, and as much as I enjoy it, sometimes I think the Hero/Claudio bits – especially in regards to Hero’s father – needs to be adapted with times. The slut shaming is strong in this one, and, well, let’s give Hero some more agency, yeah? Nothing Much To Do handled this aspect pretty decently, which is why I enjoyed it so much.
- Also on my previous list was The Taming Of The Shrew, and in the original play, as far as I can tell, Katherine is changed and molded to be what society wants her to be by a man, and that has it’s own bag of issues. I think why I enjoyed Ten Things I Hate About You is that the characters both seem to grow, not change who they are at the core.
- I will admit that I have not read Hamlet, but I have seen it performed, and it is an intense play. I have seen a few adaptations as well – Bollywood likes the more tragic of Shakespeare plays to adapt, if you look hard enough – but almost always the treatment of Ophelia falls short for me. I’d love to see or read a version where Ophelia’s arc is given more weight, and where she’s portrayed as more than the heartbroken lover, because she is so much more.
I was going to add Othello and King Lear on here – one I have read, many times over (thanks, A Levels) and the other I have not, but they are both heavy subjects and I think there are already a few film adaptations so. Let’s stop the list here.
The Literature geek in me wants to know about more adaptations, so if you think I’ll enjoy any you might have come across, print or screen, let me know!