On The Record: Shakespeare - Exits & Entrances

Andrew reviews the spoken word collection of Shakespeare's highlights, available April 8th.

I would be wasting my breath attempting to pontificate on the lasting greatness of arguably the greatest writer in the history of the English language, William Shakespeare.  There isn't anything that hasn't already been said or written about the man's legacy or his works and as evidenced by the forthcoming book-on-tape format compact disc miscellany of some of Shakespeare's most memorable quotations, Shakespeare Exits & Entrances, EMR Dench Classis and Judi Dench aren't attempting to say anything about Shakespeare either.  What Shakespeare Exits & Entrances does do, however, is provide something of a spoken word collection of snippets of some of Shakespeare's most celebrated highlights that functions as a sort of Valentine's Day audiobook with readings by Dench, her brother Jeffrey, nephew Oliver as well as contributions from actors David Suchet and Emilia Fox.  

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A series of excerpts featuring everything from Romeo & Juliet, Henry V, The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice, Richard III, Hamlet and many more, the spoken verses are augmented by electronic keyboard renderings of classical music excerpts performed by Jackie Williams.  The CD lasts a little over an hour in length and is the kind of easy listening album that would go nicely with a cup of coffee or tea in the morning while rifling through Shakespeare biographies.  Overall, it is a nice listen and Dame Judi Dench is among the premier veteran Shakespeare actresses who knows best how to deliver the quotations in a fashion that is at once true to form and in it's own manner lyrical in expression.  Jackie Williams' background score is decidedly lacking in production value but functions as secondary ambience to the spoken dialogue.

While staunch Shakespeare devotees won't find new ground shattered by this EMR Dench Classics release, Shakespeare Exits & Entrances is a cute and at times lovely summation of Shakespeare. Functioning both an abbreviated smorgasbord of the English playwright's most memorable verses and an introductory chapter for those unfamiliar with what made the author's legacy so timelessly enduring, Shakespeare Exits & Entrances is a treat those who do and don't know Shakespeare will and should be inclined to indulge in.  


- Andrew Kotwicki