The Play’s the Thing…

Title: Twelve Angry Men
Author: Reginald Rose
Genre: Play
Pages: 96
Rating: 5 of 5

This play demonstrates the positives and negatives of trial by jury as twelve jurymen determine the fate of a young man accuses of first-degree murder. Eleven men enter the room ready to send him to the chair, with only a single juror wanting to discuss the matter enough to establish or dispel reasonable doubt. Tension rises and tempers flare in the ensuing debate as the life of the accused hangs in the balance. Along the way we see apathy, prejudice, malice, reason, and compassion on display. This thoughtful play is well worth reading or, better yet, watching (the 1957 movie version is fantastic). I’ll be using this for the Classic Play category over at the Back to the Classics Challenge.

THE POT OF GOLD AND OTHER PLAYS : THE PRISONERS; THE BROTHERS MENAECHMUS;  THE SWAGGERING SOLDIER; PSEUDOLUS Translated by E. F. Watling by Plautus -  Paperback - 1965 - from Dromanabooks (SKU: 33720)

Title: The Pot of Gold and Other Plays
Author: Plautus
Translator: E. F. Watling
Genre: Plays (obviously)
Pages: 268
Rating: 3.5 of 5

The last time I tried reading ancient comedic plays I found it boring and annoying overall. Humor does not usually translate well from one language and culture to another, but these plays be Plautus gave me the occasional smile and chuckle (some of the “fourth wall breaks” were quite funny). I am not sure how much of that was the original author’s wit and how much was the translator’s rather free rendering. The translation is prose (the original is poetry), and some of the clever turns of phrase seem anachronistic or otherwise unlikely to be original.

The plots occasionally bordered on the nonsensical, but overall were reminiscent of plot devices (re)used in Shakespeare’s comedies. The treatment of women and slaves as well as some other cultural aspects made me cringe, but also provided a window into what it was like to live in the ancient world. Overall, it was a good reading experience.