2: Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)

23 Mar

Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) is a humorous exploration of the women in Shakespeare’s Othello and Romeo and Juliet.

Constance is a lonely academic, trying to prove her theory that Shakespeare borrowed two comedies by another author and turned them into his famous tragedies.

CONSTANCE: I postulate that the Gustav Manuscript, when finally decoded, will prove the prior existence of two comedies by an unknown author; comedies that Shakespeare plundered and made over into ersatz tragedies! It is an irresistible – if wholly repugnant – thought. (15)

In trying to decode the manuscript, Constance is sucked into the world of the plays, where she endeavours to stop the tragedies taking place and unwittingly becomes the new love interest for Romeo and Juliet as well as Desdemona’s perceived rival.

MacDonald writes the scenes when Constance is sucked into the plays using iambic pentameter and interspersing Shakespeare’s lines with her own.

There’s plenty of mistaken identity, boys dressed as girls and vice versa, and lots of innuendo. It’s undoubtedly a clever play and would be funny staged, but it left me rather cold. It felt like a long-winded academic gag rather than a play written from a need or desire to tell a story.

Too harsh?

Cast: 3 F, 2 M

Publisher: Vintage Canada

book cover for Goodnight Desdemona

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