I come to you today to heap encomiums on the finest lines of the finest writer outside the world of well-educated parrots.
In a word, I come to praise Caesar, not to bury him.
Best short play: Macbeth. This piece contains more quotable quotes than the Bible. One thinks of the good lady’s references to her bloody hand: “Out, damned spot! out, I say!” and “All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh!” And of Mac the Knife’s meditation on Time: “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, / Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, / To the last syllable of recorded time,” followed by “Out, out, brief candle!” and etc. Forget the overuse of exclamatories and “out”s and ask yourself if one could think of better ways to speak of guilt and death.
Best long play: Hamlet. One need not dwell on the young hero’s soliloquy on suicide to discover a plethora of well-placed words, too many to mention. Instance: after a plunge of the dagger into the pompous Polonius: “I’ll lug the guts into the neighboring room.” And later, explaining his rash action to wicked King Claudius, who seeks the wannabe professor’s corpulent corpse: He’s “in heaven. Send hither to see. If your messenger find him not there, seek him i’ th’ other place yourself. But, indeed, if you find him not within this month, you shall nose him as you go upstairs into the lobby.” The king orders his attendants, “Go seek him there.” In his mad but humorous way, Hamlet advises these toadies, “’A will stay till you come.”
Best part, besides Hamlet: Falstaff. Not the insipid clown of The Merry Wives of Windsor, but the bibulous comedian of Henry the Fourth who knows himself too well: “There lives not three good men unhanged in England, and one of them is fat, and grows old.” More, and pushing it. “A goodly portly man, i’ faith, and a corpulent; of a cheerful look, a pleasing eye, and a noble carriage; and as I think, his age some fifty, or by’r lady inclining to threescore.” Old, for merry England; older, for adolescent Hollywood.
And this trio of Ab’s awards does not even include the comedies.