Watch this video. It gives you a new respect for Patrick Stewart.
What I admire about Stewart’s way of reading Shakespeare is the way that he manages to fill the language with emotional intensity without butchering the rhythm. Iambic pentameter is a natural English metre. Shakespeare is nowhere near consistent metrically, but that is a great part of the dramatic poetry: if actors do not let the throb of the iambic pentameter work beneath the variations, everything is thrown in the air; the deviations from the metre are no longer felt; the art of the rhythm is turned over.
In this respect, I prefer the more old-fashioned Shakespearean acting. Perhaps I have a more intellectual approach than most people. I am a reader who likes to feel a place for himself in relationship with the text. I do not want an actor forcing an interpretation on me.
In the following excerpts from Richard II- all the same speech of John of Gaunt, “This sceptred isle…”- you can choose which performance you like best:
The Globe performance is the worst for my money: unnecessarily “stompy” with some quite bizarre pronunciations of words that do that butchery on metre I find so offensive. When you have a great writer, you don’t have to do that, do you?