No Holds Bard

Written by Fiona Pickles (ed.)
Review by Kristen McQuinn

Manifold Press has delivered a delightful collection of Shakespeare tales, revised and revisited for a modern audience and with an LGBT focus. Each of the ten stories in this anthology tackles a different one of the Bard’s plays, some set in modern times and some remaining in the Renaissance. But regardless of time period, there should be a story in this collection to appeal to anyone.

As with any anthology, not all of the stories were of similar style or caliber; some had much different pacing or focus than others and had a wholly unique cast to the tone of the writing. I loved some, I didn’t care for some, and others made me think, regardless of whether I liked them or not. For me, the highlights were Julia Bozza’s “In Fair Verona,” a version of Romeo and Juliet focusing on the ghost of Mercutio influencing Lord Byron; Siobhan Dunlop’s “Imitate the Sun,” about a modern London-based troupe of all-women Shakespearean actors preparing to perform Henry IV and their behind-the-scenes dramas and insecurities; Michelle Peart’s “Lost,” a continuation of Twelfth Night in the form of a conversation, mostly, between Feste and Malvolio; and Adam Fitzroy’s “Now You See Him, Now You Don’t,” a retelling of Macbeth as a modern murder case.

Each entry in the anthology deals with some aspect that is important within the LGBTQ+ community and highlights it in a way that makes it relevant to all readers. This is a terrific approach, since everyone needs more insight, understanding, and empathy into all facets of life, not just what we are familiar with already. Literature such as No Holds Bard does exactly that, while also taking an irreverent approach to the Bard himself in the process. I think Shakespeare would have approved! Definitely recommended.