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Review: William Shakespeare’s Get Thee Back to the Future!

Creating mashups is an artform. Taking two existing pieces of art and combining them in new and unique ways to create a new piece of art that is unparalleled. When taking an artwork that is 400 years old and combining it with one that is 30 years old, the result is something as interesting as William Shakespeare’s Get Thee Back to the Future!

William Shakespeare is obviously a highly influential writer who passed away over 400 years ago, but his plays and poems have become ingrained deeply within our society. Many of his works have been interpreted and reinterpreted to both recreate the work as he intended and modernize them to be more appealing to a modern audience. Just look how many versions of Romeo & Juliet there have been, and how many more movies, plays, and tv shows with star-crossed lovers.

In 1985, Marty McFly traveled back in time to the year 1955, becoming trapped there and trying to return to his home time without interfering too much with the timeline (as unsuccessfully as he was). Hill Valley was never the same after his intrusion into the lives of his teenage parents in Back to the Future.

Author Ian Doescher has taken this metaphorical chocolate and peanut butter and combined them into something that truly is their own unique creation. William Shakespeare’s Get Thee Back to the Future! takes the story from the movie and casts it into the structure of a William Shakespeare play.

The book is broken down into five acts and multiple scenes within each with line numbers that carry through each scene, like the book of a Shakespeare play. The lines are written in iambic pentameter, giving each one ten syllables, and done in blank verse (no rhyme scheme, unlike Shakespeare’s sonnets). This gives the reader the feeling as if reading Julius Caesar or MacBeth, but mixing it with anachronisms that cross the different time periods.

Even with such rich content between William Shakespeare and Back to the Future, Doescher still has fun with not only that content, but with other easter eggs. Not only are there easter eggs referencing Shakespeare’s work, but there are other pop culture references from a more modern era weaved into the narrative. For instance, when Marty is trying out to perform at the school dance, the committee member who rejects Marty and his band from playing has his soliloquy rife with Huey Lewis and the News references as the Pinheads prepare to play.

And thus, the heart of rock and roll we’ll hear,

This music that the pow’r of love releaseth.

The Pop Shakespeare books have been fun to read since the very first William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. They are the perfect mashup between pop culture and olde English culture. Like I said when I reviewed Star Wars, I would love to see William Shakespeare’s Get Thee Back to the Future! performed live and see how it would be interpreted for the stage. Until that time, the book will have to provide that entertainment.

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