“I have had the pleasure of seeing Mark Rylance perform Shakespeare twice before, in New York, on the same day. In the afternoon, he glided across the stage in pasty white makeup as Olivia, and in the evening, he rumbled as Richard III. He stole the show again more recently at the Globe in London, borrowing bits of both to birth a unique, intriguing hybrid Iago. The audience could not help but follow him – just as Roderigo claims he will not, and Iago insists he does, the Moor (1.1.40-42) – as he moved, peripatetic, about the stage. In the opening scene, with only a heraldic red, gold-lion-embossed banner draped overhead (concealing cannons which would later fire on Cyprus), he seemed to trace figure eights over the stage as if he were an Olympic skater carving that infinity sign in the ice. Roderigo panted, chasing him, struggling frantically to keep up, as if on that same ice in slippery-soled shoes, not the sharp blades with which Iago was armed.”
"Often, the contemporary eye looks at Shakespeare’s plots and characters with a certain skepticism. No matter how timeless and universal the themes – the joy, the anguish, the love – we cannot help but wonder: how could a mother not recognize her own twins? Do those simple disguises really trick everyone? And perhaps most persistently for me, as Jerry Seinfeld would say, what’s the deal with all these women? Under the auspices of the patriarchal system in early modern England, female Shakespearean characters are often submissive, with few admirable exceptions: the Princess in Love’s Labors Lost and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing come to mind. Ultimately however, Kate in Taming of the Shrew and others like her, leave modern women shaking their heads..."
"The Winter’s Tale brings to mind the Ed Hardy-clad Stefon of SNL’s Weekend Update fame: "This play has everything! Death! Disguise! Mutilation! Heartbreak! Resurrection! Statues! Bears!" Bill Hader would giggle and glance flirtatiously at Seth Meyers, adding, "and it spans 16 years!" Seth would thank Stefon, but ask him to focus on what makes the play worth reading. For me, it’s that while it contains just enough of several familiar Shakespearean elements – whimsy, tragedy, mistaken identity, and reconciliation – to make it deliciously satisfying, he doesn’t overdo any one of them, so it is neither treacly nor devastating. I’d direct readers to this play, like Stefon sends revelers to clubs, because of an important theme that resonates strongly with me. In it, Shakespeare portrays jealousy and malice as infectious agents that cause disease, resulting in suffering and death. He depicts the cure as an awakening which cleanses and detoxifies and makes room again for health..."