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Jennifer

The painting is The Toilet of Venus by Rubens. Although Rubens is Flemish, the painting is more Italian in flavor.

Lance

Thanks, J. I figured you'd know. I should have emailed you before I wrote the post.

Batocchio

Your review describes pretty much what I expected. I still want to see it, because I adore Moliere, but frankly, his real life was extremely interesting, and quite heart-breaking in places, so I had to wonder a bit when I saw the "Shakespeare in Love" treatment the trailer showed.

I have a tape of the RSC performing Bulgakov's play Moliere (veteran clown Anthony Sher is Moliere), which uses Moliere and Louis XIV to parallel Bulgakov's relationship with Stalin. It treats some unconfirmed rumors as truth, and has those low-grade Brit teleplay production values, but it's thematically interesting. (Back when I was teaching high school, I designed a comedy-and tragedy curriculum for one term, so during one stretch, we moved from Tartuffe to the film of Bulgakov's Moliere to Bulgakov's novel The Master and Margarita.) In any case, while many play translations aren't great reads, Bulgakov's is an interesting play, and there's an American playright who did a bio play of Moliere in the past ten years or so that wasn't bad, either.

Much Ado is probably my favorite Shakespeare comedy, for exactly the compassion elements you describe. It basically has all the wit of Shrew, but with less sexism. Also, Shakespeare offers us what we think of as the idealized couple, Claudio and Hero, but then offers us love as we really want in Benedick and Beatrice. A wise fellow. (I actually just read through Much Ado with some actors this past weekend — we meet every few months to read Shakespeare — it was fun.)

As for Moliere's plays, I saw a transcendent production of The Miser as a teenager that still ranks as one of the best five I've seen in my life, life-changing, epiphany-inducing, the whole deal. (I've seen it done in much less inspired manner since!) With a great deal of period comedy, it's much better to see a good production (if you can find one) than read it, I find. Anyway, thanks for the review.

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