The first installment in Blank Verse, a new Canadian webseries, hit YouTube on Sunday, August 25th. A homage to William Shakespeare in many ways, the first episode – “Act I, Scene I” – held enough substance to warrant a viewing of Scene II, in my opinion.
Initially skeptical of the production (purely for its Canadian origins, I must confess – but that’s another article), I was pleasantly surprised by the choice of actors, although I have never seen their work before. That being said, so far I am not experiencing anything even remotely similar to an intense fascination with either of them, but their performance fit the material and the characters being portrayed.
I was slightly startled by the blunt, sharp-tongued, cocky demeanor of the series’ protagonist, Will (not William—it’s too “pretentious”) Shakespeare, which may have been a consequence of my own lack of Shakespeare-related knowledge. The only other face in Scene I was Benjamina, or Ben, the stereotypical keener with an obvious affection for Shakespeare. Will’s literary genius is contained, much to his frustration, to an Internet blog, which Ben subscribes to. This sets the university-scape for future scenes, and the banter between the two similarly leads one to expect romantic attraction to spawn between them.
Addressing hallmark challenges and ambitions expressed by every writer, regardless of the genre or media, the episode discussed topics including the inevitability of human death and the potential eternal life of one’s literary masterpiece, through which the “writer [survives] with it.” Similarly, perhaps my favorite line in the episode was Shakespeare’s ironic “Who am I to change the way people speak?” Ben, while arguably being a bit irritating, posed a viable and much-appreciated argument for the influence of words: “Fame and fortune aren’t everything. Wouldn’t you rather be remembered for your words? The right words from the right voice can change someone’s perspective on the world, or move you to tears, or break your heart, or make you laugh until you cry.”
While Blank Verse wasn’t all I’d necessarily anticipated, the five minute of the first scene definitely filled the nerdy void within me. The acting was nothing special, but the characters were intriguing enough, and the content was relatable and appreciated, if perhaps clichéd. Viewers will be left wondering where the next scene will take Will and Ben, and exactly how the characters will mature to accomplish their academic endeavors, a sentiment mirrored by any given university student.