Saturday 30 December 2023

Book Review: Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent by Judi Dench (Memoir)

Title: Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent
Author: Judi Dench
Publisher: St Martin's Press
Publication Date: 23 April 2024
Pages: 288
Format: eBook - EPUB
Genre: Memoir
Source: ARC via NetGalley

Taking a curtain call with a live snake in her wig; being painted green and cavorting naked through the Warwickshire countryside; acting opposite a child with a pumpkin on his head... these are just a few things Dame Judi Dench has done in the name of Shakespeare.

In this book, Dench tells us about every Shakespearean role she's ever played. Written in dialogue with fellow artist Brendan O'Hea, she guides us through Shakespeare's plays with incisive clarity, reveals the secrets behind her rehearsal process, and invites us to share in her triumphs, disasters, and backstage shenanigans. As Dench herself says, 'Shakespeare is an international language, a beacon for humanity, and a bridge across cultures. Everything you have felt or are yet to feel is all in there in his plays.'


Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent was an interesting and entertaining read that combined Judi Dench's recollections of her performances over the years with a critique of some of the main female roles in Shakespeare's plays. There are lots of references to famous UK stage stars and directors, so the book may lack something if you are not already familiar with them all, but it contained some pleasing discussion and was a fun performance-based memoir. I am giving it four stars.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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