Dropping off my kids at school today I was explaining to them about the standarized testing that the school is doing (for older grades) and said, “Don’t expect to see any Shakespeare on a test like that. You kids might understand some of it but nobody else would.”
“I know,” says the 7yr old, “Like if they asked what play is Romeo from, I’d know that the answer is Romeo and Juliet.”
“That’s an easy one,” I say, “Since he’s got his name right there in the name of the play. But what if they asked about Falstaff?”
“Oh, just another character in one of the plays.”
“Yes, but who *is* he?”
That got me stumped, as I’m now about about 3 seconds from where they need to be. “He’s a funny fat guy,” I tell them, and say a silent prayer that the karma gods don’t give Harold Bloom a heart attack.
This seems an acceptable summary to small children, however, and they go off to school laughing at the idea of a Shakespearean funny fat guy.