Shakespeare's Globe

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Matthew talks about his charcater's key relationships in the play, significantly his hatred of Claudio. Matthew also reveals why he thinks Don John is the bad guy, something he puts down to his character merely conforming to his unorthodox birth

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Time: 4 minutes, 6 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Hayley Bartley:

 

What relationships in the play are important to your character?

 

Matthew Pidgeon:

 

Well probably, first and foremost, his relationship with his brother. They don’t have a lot of scenes together, we do a little bit, but yeah, he’s the bastard brother so obviously that would be very important. His relationship with Claudio, he has a real bee in his bonnet about Claudio, who he sees as having bested him. He says Claudio ‘hath all the glory of my overthrow’ [I. iii]. So Claudio is another key relationship. He uses Hero and Claudio as a way, I guess, ultimately to get at Don Pedro, to create as much trouble as he can. So those are three very important relationships I would say. And of course with his followers Conrade and Borachio, particularly Borachio, you see him with Borachio a lot.

 

HB:

 

I see. And so do you think about a back story for your character? I mean, purely by his name, ‘the bastard’.

 

MP:

 

Yes. We have done a bit. I mean we’ve talked about – the start of the play these characters, the soldiers, have all come from some kind of conflict. And it’s whether that conflict was directly Don John opposing Don Pedro and a battle or war between them, or whether this is part of a longer thing and perhaps Don John was allied with forces opposed to Pedro and stuff like that. So we talked a bit about that. Obviously yes the bastard thing. He’s, you know, the same father different mother, would be the situation. We’ve talked a bit about back story, but it’s all in the play actually, the fact that John has risen up against his brother and has been conquered and is semi-captive, it’s not that he is captive, it’s like he’s under house arrest almost.

 

HB:

 

Yeah and so it kind of motivates the rest...

 

MP:

 

...Yeah, I mean there was a belief that if you were a bastard there was something in your blood, there was something actively wrong with you, that meant you were sort of devious and envious and melancholic and all these things. You can either believe that or you can believe that if he is a bastard he’s been treated in a certain way all his life, that is going to potentially make him envious, devious, melancholy.

 

HB:

 

But I remember we spoke in the first interview about how he’s a bit different because he’s in a comedy; he’s more of a character from a tragedy, so how is that working out for you?

 

MP:

 

Well that’s a good question. I think he is the dark cloud, isn’t he, in this fun thing. I think you can’t play him as funny funny or as “ho ho ho I’m a baddie”, twirling a moustache. I think you’ve just got to play his situation, his dilemmas. He feels justified in his, justified in trying to bring these people down and he feels like he’s been hard done by in life. And that is his nature. In fact in the scenes where he talks about it, he doesn’t try to hide it, he says, ‘This is the way I am, a bastard, I can’t be any other way.’

 

HB:

 

He is effectively born into it.

 

MP:

 

Yeah, yeah, and I think, I Matthew looking at his situation from now I can see that I have some sympathy with him. He’s quite a silent character, he doesn’t get the respect he maybe feels he deserves.

 

HB:

 

Do you think he wants a relationship with Don Pedro? Do you think he is envious of...

 

MP:

 

...No I don’t think he does. He probably wants to prize apart the new favourite from Don Pedro, that’s Claudio, to get rid of him. And I guess ultimately, to my mind, he will want to get rid of Don Pedro eventually. I mean he wants to run things his way I’m sure.

 

HB:

 

Yes, so he’s not doing it to win favour?

 

MP:

 

He doesn’t want to be pally with his brother, he doesn’t like him, he doesn’t like any of them. And he certainly has no regard for any of the women, they’re just beneath contempt really, or things to be used.

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