Silly Shakespeare for Students

Fiction - Drama
112 Pages
Reviewed on 11/09/2020
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Paul Leonard Murray has worked as an actor and educator for over 30 years. He graduated in Theatre, gained an MA in Educational Theatre and a PhD in Applied Theatre. Originally from England but now living and working in Belgrade, Serbia, Paul is a passionate believer in the power of theatre to engage, educate and amuse children of all ages.

He is currently the director of Belgrade English Language Theatre which is a youth theatre for young people for whom English is not their native tongue. The plays in the Silly Shakespeare for Students series were developed with the help of his youth theatre members and can be read in class or performed. Inspired by the humour of the Goons, Monty Python and Commedia dell Arte (and of course the Bard himself) Paul hopes that these adaptations can help to inspire further appreciation of theatre, the English language, Shakespeare and silliness.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Louise Hurrell for Readers' Favorite

After tackling A Midsummer Night’s Dream so successfully, Paul Leonard Murray turns his attention to Shakespeare’s tragedies, namely Macbeth. Most readers will already know the plot of ‘the Scottish play’; Macbeth and his ambitious wife scheme to murder King Duncan while he sleeps and be crowned king and queen. Whilst their plot is successful, the aftermath of the murder spells trouble for the couple. Shakespeare can often be viewed as inaccessible or difficult, which in turn puts people off reading his work. But with his series Silly Shakespeare for Students, Murray has done an excellent job of bringing the Bard’s stories to a brand-new audience.

Similar to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Murray has used rhyming couplets to tell the story of Macbeth. This helps to invoke the iambic pentameter the Bard favored; keeping the rhythm and flow of the original but making the meter more accessible. The dialogue as well has been updated, with all the characters using more modern language. Yet despite these changes, plus the more light-hearted comments made throughout the play, Murray has kept the core themes and ideas of Macbeth intact. In particular, the idea of power and the corruption of it is still a central point. The characters too don’t differ in terms of their personalities – yes, the words they use are very different, but the essence of their dialogue is in keeping with the Bard’s original work. Macbeth is a play I know very well, and I think Murray has done an amazing job of capturing the heart and soul of the story whilst updating it for modern readers and theatergoers. The Silly Shakespeare for Students series is a great way to introduce readers to Shakespeare, and I can’t wait to see what Murray reimagines next.