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Taking Machiavelli at his Word

From First Thoughts

In Redeeming the Prince, Maurizio Viroli, professor emeritus of politics at Princeton University and now at the University of Texas, adopts a bold strategy: He dares to take Machiavelli at his word. Viroli says that the most important chapter in The Prince is the last, “Exhortation to Seize Italy and to Free Her From the Barbarians.” Continue Reading »

Lear vs. Lear

From Web Exclusives

There is a block in Brooklyn where it storms every day—twice a day, on Sundays. It’s been storming since January, and it’ll last till May—and then the storm will spread out all over New York. On one side of the street, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Angus Jackson’s . . . . Continue Reading »

Coriolanus Alone

From Web Exclusives

Coriolanus didn’t die for Rome’s sins. But there’s a moment early on in Josie Rourke’s production of Coriolanus that might make you wonder if she thinks he did. In it, the Romans take their bloodied hero (played by Tom Hiddleston), crown him with a thorny garland, and hoist . . . . Continue Reading »

Shakespeare’s Forest

From Web Exclusives

I had to promise my first born child to the fairies to get into Julie Taymor’s sold-out production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but it was worth it: This is fantastic Shakespeare, and it’s worth putting your name on the standby list to try and see it. Despite its reputation for gauziness, Midsummer is actually a ruthless play: all four couplings marred with traces of compulsion, faithlessness, pettiness, and cruelty. . . . Continue Reading »

Macbeth’s Scorpions of the Mind

From Web Exclusives

I recently saw a preview performance of Jack O’Brien’s production of Macbeth at Lincoln Center—the one starring Ethan Hawke in the title role. Here’s the short review: It’s not great. Don’t waste your money on it. But the great thing about bad Shakespeare is that it can be bad in an interesting way. . . . Continue Reading »