Review: Bevington, This Wide and Universal Theater
David Bevington’s new book This Wide and Universal Theater: Shakespeare in Performance, Then and Now was recently noted by the New York Times’ William Grimes in his comprehensive review of “a stack of Shakespeare books released to coincide with the playwright’s birthday on April 23.” Though Bevington’s book is set amongst some tough competition, as Grimes notes, his book stands out for its detailed study of the performance of Shakespeare’s plays. Grimes writes:
Mr. Bevington, by focusing on the stage directions in Shakespeare’s plays, shows how actors relied on words alone to suggest time, place and action, and how the stage at the Globe could be manipulated in the hands of a canny playwright. There was no balcony in “Romeo and Juliet.” On the other hand, since there was nothing in the way of stage décor, no intervals were needed to move from scene to scene. More recent directors, returning to Shakespeare’s idea of staging, have embraced abstract spaces and let the language do the work.
Examining the performance of Shakespeare’s art both in his own time and in the succeeding centuries, David Bevington’s This Wide and Universal Theater is an essential addition to any Shakespeare lover’s bookshelf.