Seven Classic Plays

  • by William Shakespeare, Henrik Ibsen, Anton Chekhov, Alexandre Dumas, more
  • Narrated by full cast
  • 11 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Now, for the first time in audio, Blackstone presents seven great plays in one volume: Euripides' Medea, Shakespeare's The Tempest, Moliere's The Imaginary Invalid, Dumas' Camille, Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, Shaw's Arms and the Man, and Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. These productions illustrate the development of European drama from ancient times to the threshold of the modern theater. A superb repertory company has been assembled for these recordings, all under the direction of veteran producer Yuri Rasovsky, who has won both the Audie Award for book production and the George Foster Peabody Award for broadcasting. These are not mere readings. Rather, they are full performances using all the resources of audio to full advantage. Just as stage plays are "opened up" when adapted to film, so these selections create greater intimacy. "Staginess" is avoided, lively theatrics enhanced, while the substance of the works remains intact. For instance, in Arms and the Man, audio makes possible the judicious integration of the author's witty scene settings, written for the published version of the play, with the play itself. This is the play that established Shaw's reputation as one of the greatest wits of the London drama scene. Music accounts for another noteworthy aspect of these productions. The Imaginary Invalid employs the score that Marc-Antoine Charpentier composed for Moliere's own premiere. It is conducted by Steven Ovitsky, artistic director of the Milwaukee Symphony. The Tempest, composed by Shakespeare as a multi-sensory theater experience, features music on Elizabethan instruments still extant from Shakespeare's own production, resulting in lyrical textual passages, overflowing with exotic images, tantalizing sounds, and a palpable lushness.

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What the Critics Say

"Yuri Rasovsky, who wrote and produced this superior experience, must be a genius." (AudioFile)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Badly Done Plays

Please save your money and pass on this collection of plays. None are done very well and the production of Medea is particularly bad. When the director chooses to set the Chorus to music, he/she must emphasize diction and musical quality. Sadly, the director failed on both counts. The chanting is incomprehensible and the music is cheesy. It's hard to wreck Medea but the director succeeded admirably.

As to the rest: The Ibsen is weak and the Shaw is boring. The productions were produced in 1985. Perhaps 20 years of a renewed interest in audio literature require more sophisticated productions or, perhaps, these productions, produced under the auspices of the Hollywood Theater of the Ear, are simply the product of a consistently bad director.
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- S. N. C. Siegel

Not Great Audible Theater

Although this is not a bad recording of several good plays, it was far from one of my favorite compilations. From the publisher’s summary they were attempting to produce “lively theatrics enhanced” performances. Hum. For me most of these plays seemed significantly overdone. My favorite of these plays was An Enemy of the People which was pretty good. Still overacted, this play survived the overacting pretty well. Medea was my least favorite. It seemed wildly over acted and did not resonate emotionally at all. The Tempest and Camille were OK, but far from stellar. I found The Imaginary Invalid and Uncle Vanya pretty boring. I had just heard Arms and the Man from the LA Theater Works (LATW) Shaw Collection, and this version blanched in comparison. It did not even seem like the same play. The LATW version was snappy, lively, and witty. This version fell completely flat.
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- Michael "I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-13-2004
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.