Saturday, August 8, 2015

William Shakespeare's Star Wars: My Nerd Dream Come True (Review)

The trilogy of verse plays, William Shakespeare's Star Wars, is one of my favorite things in this world. 

The author, Ian Doescher, wrote them as part homage, part parody -- exploring the question of what would it be like if the famous Star Wars original trilogy was written in the style of William Shakespeare.

Not only is the full trilogy in iambic pentameter -- the verse in which Shakespeare's plays are written -- but it also incorporates, reappropriates, and adapts a mishmash of lines from Shakespeare's plays. The majority of the verse is Shakespeare's words, reassigned and sometimes tweaked slightly for plurals and pronouns. Doescher supplements the Shakespeare with additions of his own, but keeps the plot firmly Star Wars. 

The style feels strangely Shakespearean in more than just the language. Fans of Shakespeare will be reminded of the Henriad when the plot grows more chaotic -- with characters rushing on during brief transitional and battle scenes to deliver their lines and move on. You can imagine the plot taking place on the stage, or you can imagine the plays' language transposed over the original Star Wars movies. It works brilliantly either way.

Doescher also adds monologues and scenes of his own. Darth Vader has a surprisingly moving monologue contemplating his own evil after he force-chokes someone to death, for instance. That soliloquy incorporates lines from Richard III -- an apt parallel. Also like Shakespeare, Doescher gives characters of minor importance important scenes. While their significance to the plot is small, the scenes shine with innovation and interest -- a refreshing break from the main action. The conversation between two unnamed Stormtroopers is probably my personal favorite. 


And then there are some things that are obviously there just for hilarity. R2D2 speaks in beep-boops of iambic pentameter. Which is written out, with shared lines and all. 

Anyway, a mere review can't express my happiness that this thing exists. It's like the author took my two favorite geeky fandoms and smashed them together. Unfortunately, no one is allowed to perform it because of copyright issues. Disney now owns Star Wars, so we're probably never going to see this parody hit the stage or the screen anytime soon. However, I'm told there are a number of amateur performances and readings that have already been done on YouTube or elsewhere. 

Seriously. Just read this. You won't be disappointed. Also, I really like reviewing stuff from this publisher (Quirk Books) because of the fantastic cover art. The Darth-Vader-in-a-ruff cover art. 

READ IT. IT'S AWESOME. 

6 comments:

  1. I have seen this book in stores, and I am amused that it exists. Yet I must admit I have mixed feelings about it. I kind of feel Star Wars is grossly over exposed for what it is. (I first came to this conclusion the moment I laid eyes on the "Wookie Cookies" Star Wars cook book.)

    So, I don't think I can bring myself to read these. However, even without doing so, one can clearly detect Shakespearean structures and occasional moods in the original film trilogy.

    I wonder if the author, like Shakespeare, invented any of his own words for the pieces. ("beep -boop excluded, of course.)

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    1. I think he did. Or at least some creative portmanteaus.

      I try to remember that before the giant circle-jerk that was the sequels and all the merch, Star Wars started out as a low-budget scifi film purely for entertainment that wasn't necessarily expected to succeed. Shakespeare probably didn't expect to become the literary god we see him as today. Neither did Star Wars expect to take off the way it did. I hope you check it out, even if it's just to borrow from the library.

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    2. Okay, maybe I will take a look at Episode IV someday.

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    3. It's at least worth keeping on your mental TBR list.

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  2. I always wondered if this book would actually be worth reading... your review has convinced me that it is! I'm glad it actually has some substance to it rather than just being a weird mash-up. I'll definitely have to check it out!

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    1. SOOOOOOOOOOOO worth reading!!! REEEEEEAD IT!!!!

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