Monday, August 29, 2016

679 (2016 #34). Hag-Seed

by Margaret Atwood

A clever and funny retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest, Margaret Atwood's Hag-Seed (a reference to Caliban in the play, literally, "the offspring of a witch") is a play within a play (within a play).

So far, I like this book the best of the titles I've read in the Hogarth Shakespeare series of books where bestselling authors are commissioned to retell stories from Shakespeare.  Hag-seed is the fourth one written.  It probably helps that this is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays.  I've only read one of Atwood's books (The Handmaid's Tale), but I loved it.

I do think this is a series where it is helpful to have read the Shakespeare play on which the book is based.  Fortunately for her readers, Atwood has made that easy by including a synopsis, albeit at the end of the book.

Felix gets fired as the artistic director of a regional theater, and ends up working with a literacy program at a nearby prison, where the inmates act out Shakespeare's plays.  After a few years of this, he learns those responsible for his dismissal have become government officials and are coming to view the play, not knowing he is the director.  He decides to stage the play he was working on when fired all those years ago - with some relevant changes.

As a Shakespeare fan, I would LOVE to see a performance of The Tempest based on Atwood's book!  The costumes and dialogue adaptations (rap in one case) sound awesome!  Requiring his actors to only use swear words they find in the play is a brilliant touch. Highly recommended.

© Amanda Pape - 2016

[I received this advance reader edition through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.  It will be passed on to someone else to enjoy.]

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