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April 4, 2014

Thursday Quiz: Murder and the Bard

I am still, a week after my first viewing, completely shaken by Red Velvet, a play about a 19th-century actor who specialized in the great classical roles. With that in mind, this week’s quiz looks to the fella Cole Porter so memorably called “Da Bard of Stratford on Avon.” Brush up your Shakespeare.

 

  1. If you attend a mystery convention, you may well see us roaming around with a video camera, asking questions. One of our choicest queries is “What’s your favorite method of murder?” Hamlet’s father was famously murdered. What was the method?
  2. Richard III is one of Shakespeare’s most notorious villains, but he doesn’t do his own dirty work. Name the two characters who, at Richard’s behest, open the bloody floodgates by murdering Richard’s brother, the Duke of Clarence.
  3. Actors tend to hate the stage directions that appear in scripts, and Shakespeare’s are no exception. Titus Andronicus, arguably Shakespeare’s most violent play, features one of the most difficult entrances in theater-history, with one character required to come on stage with “her hands cut off and her tongue cut out, and ravished.” She then has to sit around – bleeding from both her stumps and her nether regions, presumably – while her uncle makes a long and boring speech about the awfulness of her injuries. What’s the poor girl’s name?
  4. The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge famously described a character in one of Shakespeare’s plays as being driven by “motiveless malignity.” (Readers may understand this as a swanky way of saying “I dunno…he just plain bad.”) What’s the play?
  5. Shakespeare wrote some spectacularly vicious women. The neurotically hand-scrubbing Lady MacB. may be the most well-known, but in a cage-fight, I’d put my money on Queen Margaret, from Henry VI, Part Three. She has a memorably chilling monologue on the battlefield, in which she goes frighteningly nuts while taunting her royal prisoner. The speech ends with her order to her henchmen: “Off with the crown, and with the crown his head; And, whilst we breathe, take time to do him dead.” Who’s the hapless victim? And, for extra credit, what’s his relationship to Richard III?

Answers to the two previous week’s quizzes will appear shortly; Julia is on vacation and Maggie cannot remotely figure out how to work the thingie with the thing.

 

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