Shakespeare on Boredom, Boring Speaker, Lengthy Event and Polite Insults

this will last out a night in Russia when nights are longest there“This will last out a night in Russia,
When nights are longest there“

(Measure For Measure, act 2, sc. 1)

Tips for use.  A sentiment that, no doubt, many of us have felt or acquired when exposed to interminable presentations by a particularly boring speaker. Or when we have been obliged by politeness to attend an interminable ceremony or a tedious theatrical performance. Talking of which, on the advent of the Restoration, after the years of Cromwell’s Commonwealth, Shakespeare’s plays were re-introduced on the English stage. They were not very popular at the beginning, especially the tragedies and dramatists at times re-worked the plots so as to provide a happy ending. Dryden’s brother in law, the Hon. James Howard arranged Romeo and Juliet so that they lived happily ever after. In the early days of the Restoration, England was the only country in Europe where women’s parts were played by men. In the “History of the English Stage” Thomas Betterton (1635-1710) reports that, “His Majesty being at the Representation of Hamlet, and thinking the Entry of the Queen, in that play, a little too tedious, one of the Actors most humbly acquainted the Audience that the Queen was not quite shaved.”
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In the play. Angelo, Deputy Duke of Vienna, comments on the trivial and lengthy exchanges between Froth and Pompey. The reference to nights in Russia reflects the generalized geographical notions of the time. In Russia’s Northern latitudes nights are very long, as they are in all Scandinavian countries, but the long winter nights of Russia found their way into popular parlance.

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