By Byrne Harrison
"O help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, help. Thou art mine only hope."
George Lucas meets the Bard in Ian Doescher's recently released "William Shakespeare's Star Wars." Having already read (and seen a production of) Adam Bertocci's "Two Gentlemen of Lebowski," and being both a Shakespeare and "Star Wars" fan, I'll admit to being fairly predisposed to like this book.
The "Star Wars" fan in me loved this. Doescher seems to be having a great time working "Star Wars" dialogue into iambic pentameter, and the fact that he manages to have R2-D2's beeps and whistles and Chewbacca's growls and roars keep in meter (not to mention making R2's noises rhyme), shows both a love of "Star Wars" and a real facility for Shakespeare's language. He made subtle (and not so subtle) references about whether Han or Greedo shot first, the fact that Luke and Leia are siblings, and all the clever little in-jokes that a "Star Wars" fan would love.
The Shakespeare fan in me liked it. The iambic pentameter was great. I especially enjoyed reading some of the dialogue out loud (I would love to get some friends together and do a staged reading of this at a party). However, the play made it very obvious just how much the movie relied on special effects, and how hard it would be to actually stage this. Doescher uses a chorus to describe scene changes and some of the more difficult special effects. There is a lot of chorus; it becomes distracting.
But really, this isn't meant to be performed; it is meant to be read, and as such it is a success. And I will admit that the director in me really wants to give it a shot just to see what it will take to make it work on stage.
But that will have to wait for another day.
Doescher also tends to shoehorn familiar passages from Shakespeare's plays into the story (tons of reworked lines from Hamlet, Macbeth, Henry V, etc.). On the one hand, it shows his knowledge of Shakespeare's work. On the other, it just gets a little annoying. I know what Shakespeare wrote; I want to see what Doescher can do without relying on the Bard's own words.
For now, I will say this is a must-read for any "Star Wars" fans who have an appreciation for Shakespeare. And I would recommend it and "Two Gentlemen of Lebowski" for any Shakespeare fans as well. It is a great read, a clever concept, and the epic story really lends itself to this style of writing.
To purchase "William Shakespeare's Star Wars" for Kindle, click the link below.
To purchase the paperback version, click this link.