I may have spoken too soon in my wish for that comic two-hander, for lo and behold it is reproduced – and claimed as “undoubtedly one of the most important [works] of his career” in this week’s Country Life.
I have read it in full – it takes up only a page – and find the style to be somewhat turgid – how much of this is owed to Mark Griffiths’ input in stitching together two surviving manuscripts I couldn’t say. It is accompanied by another article, expounding on what I found the most interesting element of last week’s story (i.e., what Shakespeare was up to) but all seemingly based on the loosest conjecture – and working every line of the little dialogue into a deeper comment on the Queen, Lord Burghley, Mary Queen of Scots or Philip II of Spain. As Senor Benedick says, with about as much justification “There’s a double meaning in that.”
The controversy about the initial identification still rages – Jonathan Jones in the Guardian calls it “provable guff” here and there’s a much more detailed takedown here. One of the best things to come out was the fine Times editorial which shoehorned in more Shakespearean quotes than you can shake a stick at – if it can’t be found online, I might reproduce it as a mini-quiz…
It may be a storm in a teacup, but Country Life combined the article with a piece urging its readers to donate to the appeal for the Rose Playhouse about which more in this post. Whether the picture and the play turn out to be Shakespeare or not, I hope the publicity will have a material effect on this true, tangible, link to him.