This American Life host and radio superpersonality Ira Glass went to see a play and came away more vexed than Claudius walking out of The Mousetrap in Elsinore.
@JohnLithgow as Lear tonight: amazing. Shakespeare: not good. No stakes, not relatable. I think I’m realizing: Shakespeare sucks.— Ira Glass (@iraglass) July 28, 2014
But it’s not a one-off thing! Glass says he’s been building to this conclusion for a long time, straining like Caliban under Prospero’s yoke:
Same thing with the great Mark Rylance shows this yr: fantastic acting, surprisingly funny, but Shakespeare is not relatable, unemotional.— Ira Glass (@iraglass) July 28, 2014
So what’s going to happen? Will bespectacled literary nerds have to choose between Chicago’s adopted son Ira and our old friend Stratford Billy? That’s like Prince Hal having to choose between getting drunk with Falstaff and cleaning up his act for his dad the king!
Be not afraid, gentles — reporter Lois Beckett is on it, with a retelling of King Lear specially updated for Ira Glass’s post-Renaissance storytelling sensibilities. It’s This American Lear.
Update: Jesse Lansner did a second, extended Storify collection of “This American Lear,” including some of the other reactions to Glass’s and then Beckett’s tweets. On Twitter, Beckett called this “the director’s cut.”