Ian Doescher wraps up the SW prequel trilogy with his Shakespearean take on ROTS. The really interesting thing about this adaptation is that since ROTS is so dead-on as classic tragedy, this book almost completely plays it straight. There’s not a lot of inside joking around aside from the two Jedi characters who provided commentary in all of the prequel adaptations; in this case they’re wondering why their handbooks go from Order 65 to Order 67 and if it’s anything they should be concerned about.
Where some of ROTS’s most compelling, innovative, and fascinating moments are at least in part visual, Doescher had to improvise how to present them in literary form meant for a stage. You get some interesting results like Palpatine staging a fake play for Anakin’s benefit that dramatizes the legend of Darth Plagueis. The “ruminations” scene is replaced with long soliloquys. The silent coda at the end of the film is changed to Yoda delivering a speech at Padmé’s funeral. Other scenes that relied on intercutting are divided so that one whole scene plays out before it goes to the other scene. For example, Yoda and Sidious battle before Anakin and Obi-Wan do. Padmé dies first, then Vader’s transformation occurs.
Other than that you really do get the feeling this isn’t so much a Shakespeare spoof on Star Wars as it is Shakespeare’s ROTS screenplay circa 1599. The inside baseball stuff is almost exclusively for English/Shakespeare geeks who can recognize the way Doescher is playing around with verse depending on the characters and situations, which he helpfully explains to some degree at the end.
For me one of the highlights is how he handles Anakin and Padmé, not only in this book but in the previous ones. Instead of taking the cheap way out of making fun of them and their romance, Doescher takes them seriously and it probably helps they fit that Shakespeare template to a tee. The charged dialogue in “Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge” as they reunite for the first time captures the tension between them on film.
The only real criticism I have of “Tragedy” is how Doescher’s reimagining of Jar Jar as a highly intelligent being with his own agenda had no payoff. Granted Jar Jar did not have much of a presence in ROTS but in this adaptation, Jar Jar’s not there at all. So what happened? It’s almost as though Doescher forgot to tie up his own arcs.
Now that I’ve read all of these, I’ll probably have a break for a while and at some time in the future read the adaptations done for Eps IV-VI. I’m sure there will be a TFA one done sometime in