WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S MUCH ADO ABOUT MEAN GIRLS / AUTHOR: IAN DOESCHER / PUBLISHER: QUIRK BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
At the start of the 21st century there was a bit of a trend; take some old Shakespeare story and turn it into a teen comedy. This odd idea gave us the likes of She’s The Man, Get Over It and 10 Things I Hate About You. One of the better teen comedies of the age was Mean Girls, a movie about high school bullying that had nothing to do with the Bard of Avon. Instead, 15 years later, it’s been turned into a Shakespeare play.
William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Mean Girls is the first Shakespeare adaptation by Ian Doescher that isn’t based on a sci-fi movie, and that appears to be a good thing. Doescher’s style is typically to poke fun at the movie and let the iambic pentameter do a lot of the heavy lifting. This often makes the jokes a bit laboured. Mean Girls is a movie famous for its instantly quotable lines and on-point social commentary, so we didn’t have very high expectations for this book.
We were relieved to discover that Doescher has outdone himself with this work. For a start, he’s combined Tina Fey’s modern humour with classic Shakespearean drollness. The dialogue just works and it’s as snappy as we’d expect from Shakespeare or Fey. This is mostly because the source material is such a good match for the Shakespeare treatment. The caustic wit and beautiful language work well. One of the enduring things about Shakespeare is that the language is very pretty to listen to or read, and when paired with up to date humour, it's hilarious.
In addition, Doescher has deliberately paired characters from the movie with Shakespearean heroines. Cady gets some of the lines from The Tempest’s Miranda, as both characters are ingénues. Janis is a natural match for Beatrice, the main character from Much Ado About Nothing, with Regina as the titular Shrew from The Taming of the Shrew. This is a stroke of genius, putting some of the best lines from Shakespeare’s work into modern mouths.
William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Mean Girls nails everything we love about Mean Girls and everything good about Shakespeare. Recommended for fans of either, both, or just those who like a quirky giggle.