Thursday, 12 January 2017

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

"Pretense, fakery, but who's to know?"

First, confession time, The Tempest, is not my favourite Shakespearian work and I was a little rusty on the details going in. I’m almost certain I’ve seen a Bell Shakespeare production and recall vague details about an island, a storm and Prospero. Nevertheless I was keen to dive into Atwood’s re-imagining.

This retelling is very much of the play within a play variety which is ultimately rather Shakespearian and intriguing. The prolific Canadian writer takes us on a journey which ultimately leads to prison. Director Felix, mourning the loss of his daughter, seeks to bring her back to life through the magic of the theatre and yet, is unceremoniously ousted from staging his challenging new rendition of The Tempest at the Makeshiweg Festival.

Cast out, much like Prospero, Felix takes a job teaching Shakespeare to prisoners and what better way to cause havoc than to stage the ultimate The Tempest revival? That’s basically the plot, throw in some crazy times in the clink and some crazy times in general and you get the picture.

I wanted to love this so much more. I was distracted and in that pre-Christmas funk. You know the one where you realise that those much needed sane days off work are going to be replaced by family stress, increased alcohol consumption and competitive present buying? I’m sure you do. Now, I return this book to my dear friend, Nicki, fly back to that bookshelf courtesy of Australia Post.

4 out of 5 times meta seems appropriate.

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