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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Shakespeare does it again - with help from Neil MacGregor

Shakespeare's Restless World, the series of 15 minute programmes that Neil MacGregor is presenting on Radio Four at the moment, isn't a disappointment. (After A History Of The World In 100 Objects most things would have been.) Each Shakespeare programme has a different theme - religion, conquest, Ireland, science or Plague - explored by reference to an object - a ceremonial cup, an apprentice's cap, a model ship, a flag or a poster. You come away from each one dazzled by Shakespeare's ability to take the kind of thoughts it exhausts the rest of us merely to think and render them as verse. You listen to each one with fresh admiration for how he managed to take the news of his day and turn it into the wisdom of the ages. You listen to each one wondering why radio programmes seem to have more substance than time while TV programmes seem to have more time than substance.