- ‘This Earthly Stage’: World and Stage in Late Medieval and Early Modern England by Brett D. Hirsch and Christopher Wortham
Essays in this handsomely produced collection are mainly gathered from the 2006 conference of the Perth Medieval and Renaissance Group (PMRG), ‘a forum for multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary scholarship in Western Australia’. Despite the apparently local provenance, there are distinguished essays by well-known international scholars such as Michael Best (Canada) who writes on ‘The Electronic Re-creation of Shakespeare’, Heather Dubrow (USA) on songs in Shakespeare’s drama, Clayton Mackenzie (Hong Kong) on Edward II, and Laurence Wright (South Africa) on ‘Irony and Transcendence on the Renaissance Stage’. Alan Brissenden, the most senior historian of Australian theatrical perfromances of Shakespeare, entertainingly records several different Australian versions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, demonstrating the cultural and geographical transportability of the play. The heavy emphasis on Shakespeare is evident also in a study of botanical metaphors in Titus Andronicus by Victoria Bladen, revealing references to plague in Troilus and Cressida by Darryl Chalk, and a study of the ways in which Shakespeare constructs kings from his sources by Mary-Rose McLaren. However, other essays are more wide ranging, with studies of Marlowe’s early tragedies (Lucy Potter), Arden of Faversham (Heather Kerr), the image of the owl in early English culture (Brett Hirsch), and the rituals of death in both private drama and public performance in the very early sixteenth century (John Tillotson). Breaking out of the early modern and Shakespearean moulds is a lively account by Steve Chinna of Howard Barker’s adaptation, Gertrude (the Cry), which is informed by Chinna’s own experience of directing the play.
The University of Western Australia