The Cambridge Shakespeare Guide, By Emma Smith

 

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The Independent Culture

I road-tested this pocket-sized handbook on a cold night at the Globe, as actors from South Sudan played Cymbeline – perhaps the Bard's most convoluted plot – in Juba Arabic.

Crisp but never bland, Smith's synopses passed with flying colours. Her four-part approach to each play – plot, context, performance history, themes and interpretations – packs an immense quantity of usable information and ideas into a brief compass.

Even the most avid Shakespearean will learn from the spotlight on the works, while general essays explore the life and times.

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