Had an interesting conversation with the HR lady at work today, who was surprised to discover that I am a self-professed Shakespeare Geek. That's a fun conversation: "Me? A Shakespeare geek? I'm a huge Shakespeare Geek. I run a site called ShakespeareGeek.com."
She then, and this is where it gets interesting, starts firing Shakespeare questions at me, one after another, in such a methodical way it made me wonder if it was some sort of exercise HR people do.
"What's your favorite play?" she asked.
"Don't have one," I said, "They're all good and offer something different."
"You've been asked all these questions before, haven't you?"
"I don't know yet. That one, yes."
"You're on a desert island with only one Shakespeare play to read for the rest of your life, which do you take?"
"King Lear, because it's so much more complex than any of the others that I could read it for the longest time and continually discover new things."
"If you could act one Shakespeare role, which would it be?"
"Iago. Who wouldn't want to play Iago?"
"Which villain causes you the most despise?"
This one got me to pause, and I'm not sure I'm stating the question the way she did. I think she was asking me which villain gives me the most visceral reaction, someone who I really personally hate. "Tough call," I answer, "Most of the best villains are so well crafted that I'm too busy being fascinated with them on that level to actually hate them." We then have some conversation about "which villain would kick which other villain's butt", and how for instance Iago versus Tybalt would be no contest. Tybalt talks a good game but is a coward at heart.
"What about Grendel?"
*pause* "Ummm....what? Which play is he in?"
"Isn't he the monster on the island?"
"Oh, you mean Caliban?"
"Yeah, that was his name, Caliban."
"In my house, Caliban is comic relief. " (I then recount the story of my 5yr old being worried that Caliban had no friends to play with.)
That was at the end of the day and I had to catch a train, but I've been thinking about the question. As I've said a million times before, once somebody opens up the door to talk about Shakespeare they're gonna have to shut me up because I won't ever stop myself :). I'm thinking my answer will be Claudius, because he's such a damned weasel. Kills his brother, marries his brother's wife. He's a drunk. Enlists Hamlet's friends to spy on him, supports Polonius's manipulation of his daughter as bait. Tries to get England to do the dirty job of killing Hamlet, and when that doesn't work, manipulates Laertes into trying to same thing. Lets his wife drink poison. And then, when mortally wounded, still cries out "Defend me, friends" as if there's anybody left that cares if he lives or dies.