Death and the King’s Horseman

By: Wole Soyinka
Drama
1975
Subject Matter: Elesin; Nigeria; History
Rating: 4/5

Death and the King's Horseman

Much like my last post about Woza Albert!, there is a lot of social commentary going on in Death and the King’s Horseman. And, again, I’m not quite sure what to make of it.

This play reminds me a lot of Things Fall Apart, a fairly well-known novelĀ also set in Nigeria during British rule. So if you’ve read that, you’ve got a pretty solid idea about the general subject matter of this play.

Continue reading “Death and the King’s Horseman”

Woza Albert!

By: Percy Mtwa, Mbongeni Ngema, and Barney Simon
Drama
1983
Rating: 3/5

Woza Albert!

There’s a lot going on in Woza Albert! and I’m not sure that I should even try to talk about it.

It’s a play set in Johannesburg, South Africa, in the early 1980s, so during Apartheid.

I know the basics of the apartheid system, and I’ve read some other fiction from this time, but I don’t really understand it. I don’t know the major players and the nuances of the systematic oppression or the realities of life or any of that.

So I didn’t fully understand this play.

Continue reading “Woza Albert!”

The Duchess of Malfi

By: John Webster
Drama
1623
Rating: 2.5/5

The Duchess of Malfi

I guess I should start off by saying that I’m not a huge fan of tragedy.

The genre as a whole just seems depressing and pointless and inherently unenjoyable. And that’s not because I believe that good literatureĀ has to have a happy ending. I love A Farewell to Arms. But it just seems strange to me to read a play knowing full well that it’s going to have an awful ending, that the characters are doomed from the outset, that any good in the world is going to be obliterated by the end of the story.

All that to say that I knew I wasn’t going to love The Duchess of Malfi from the get-go. Continue reading “The Duchess of Malfi”

Volpone

By: Ben Jonson
Drama
1616
Rating: 3/5

Volpone

If you’ve never heard of Ben Jonson, then literary education has failed you.

He’s a contemporary of Shakespeare, and much more famous in his day than Shakespeare was.

Volpone is a play by Jonson, a satire set in Venice, Italy.

All I can really say about it is it’s all right. Not bad, not good. So-so. Eh. It comes complete with sadism, an attempted rape scene, a guy pretending to be a turtle… Continue reading “Volpone”

Blues for Mister Charlie: A Play

By: James Baldwin
Drama
1964
Subject Matter: Racism
Rating: 4/5

Blues for Mister Charlie

I’ll start by saying that I’m not typically a huge fan of plays. So for Blues for Mister Charlie to get a four star rating is a big deal.

But, man oh man, is this powerful stuff.

It reads like a novel, which is a feat of wonder for a play.

There is real characterization, real development, vivid imagery. It’s one that you’ll want to read cover to cover without pause. Continue reading “Blues for Mister Charlie: A Play”