Hogarth Shakespeare – World’s poshest fan fiction

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The Hogarth Shakespeare series consists of eight Shakespearean plays retold by modern masters.

I recommend this series specifically to those who were forced to read Shakespeare in school and were put off by the ‘ye olde’ language.

Hagseed is Margaret Atwood’s retelling of The Tempest.

Atwood re-imagines The Tempest as a play set in a prison. This play is directed by Felix Phillips, theatre director extraordinaire as a slow moving instrument of revenge against those who have wronged him. I found this version of The Tempest to be both timidly faithful and wickedly adulterous.

Felix Phillips is the high-flying, cloud-capped tower scaling genius impresario who leaves the mundane running of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival to his ambitious second in command, Tony. Tony pulls a coup d’état and pitches Felix out into the snow before Felix can realise his finest production yet, the Tempest.

Chewing on his failures, misery and betrayal, Felix plots his slow burning revenge against Tony and his cronies. His chosen vehicle of hubris delivery is the very play that Tony canned, staged twelve years later in a prison as part of a program to improve literacy skills amongst inmates.

But before Felix can enact his revenge he has to wrangle his motley crew of players. And in their untapped talents he finds lessons to learn as well as to teach.

Atwood does not shy away from the darker themes of the Tempest in her usual inimitable style. And her ghost constructed of Felix’s memories of his own lost daughter Miranda is deeply poignant.