Interpreters of All's Well That End Well often play it as a romantic comedy, but this is an impossible task. The main character blackmails a man into marrying her, pursues him across Europe, commits sexual assault on him, fakes her death, humiliates him, and then blackmails him again into accepting her. In Episode 27, Joel looks at this complicated and often charmless play.
Robust and endlessly versatile, Othello has rightly remained one of Shakespeare's most popular tragedies. We spend the entire play knowing more than the Moor of Venice and are forced to watch him slowly come undone. Watching Othello is like watching a car wreck: we see it coming and can do nothing but sit and wait for the crash to occur. In this episode of Shakespeare Unbard, Joel discusses one of Shakespeare's strongest plays.
Shakespeare entered his dark period with this unique and often troubling play, one which just barely earns its reputation as a comedy.
It's hard not to applaud Shakespeare for the audacity of Troilus and Cressida, whose cynical and unhappy story seems to mark Shakespeare's turn towards the darker themes that would mark the rest of his career.