The Comedies with Joely Richardson

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. Joely Richardson looks into a pair of cross-dressing comedies, with their missing twins, mistaken identities, and characters in disguise: Shakespeare’s As You Like It and Twelfth Night.

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  • larksong23

    PLEASE, if PBS is going to offer online streaming you need to create a user friendly experience. Unfortunately, not all your programs will play and your streaming is horrible. If you want to reach a larger online audience then PLEASE address this issue. Terrible and very amatuer.

  • Dr. Bob Zaslavsky

    [Posted on my Facebook (FB) page on Monday, 28 January 2013]

    The new BBC series Shakespeare Uncovered debuted on PBS last Friday night. It will air two episodes at a time for three weeks. Episodes are available streaming on the PBS web site the day after they air ( The first pair of episodes was devoted to (1) Ethan Hawke preparing to play Macbeth and (2) Joely Richardson reflecting on the women of Shakespeare’s comedies, especially As You Like It and Twelfth Night (January 25).

    The first two episodes were worthwhile, if uneven.
    Ethan Hawke’s combination of clumsy ignorance about Shakespeare’s language (which I doubt to have been feigned for the sake of the television audience) and his actorly reverence for the depth and challenge of the plays had a kind of charm and appeal that just might bring more of an audience to Shakespeare. In addition, as he learned, the audience learned–through watching scenes played by a variety of actors, through interviews with theater professionals and scholars. The program may not have plumbed the full depths of Macbeth, but it was a good-hearted and sincere introduction.

    Joely Richardson’s discussion of the women in the comedies was enriched by her on-screen conversations with her mother, Vanessa Redgrave, and her recollections of her grandfather, Sir Michael Redgrave. In addition, the excursions into the acting of the plays in Shakespeare’s time (especially the gender playfulness that was rendered more pointed by having young boys playing women’s roles) were provocative in a good way, even if they did not go as far as I would have liked.

    The remaining episodes will be:
    (3) Derek Jacobi on playing Richard II and (4) Jeremy Irons on Shakespeare’s history plays, especially Henry IV, parts 1 & 2, and Henry V (air date February 1, streaming next day);
    (5) David Tennant on playing Hamlet and (6) Trevor Nunn (director) on The Tempest (air date February 8, streaming next day).

    In connection with the second episode, I have posted a link to my essay “Shakespeare’s Twelfe Night: An Introduction for Teachers” on my DocZOnline alternate page ( In addition, in connection with the sixth episode, I would recommend the link that I posted on FB on January 3 to my essay “The Tempest: Shakespeare’s Farewell to His Art.”

  • Gwendolyn Toffling

    I loved the actors from the Globe theater in As You Like It.

  • CitizenE

    This was by far my favorite episode, as the histories are my least favorite plays, and it is hard for someone to say something new, or focus on something new when it comes to MacBeth, Hamlet, and The Tempest, as well as those presentations did. As a teacher, I always wanted to teach the comedies, but could not figure out how to do so. This program would be very useful for teaching two of Shakespeare’s most sublime works.