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The play’s the thing with Shakespeare app

Shakespeare doesn’t come easily to first-time readers (for whom confusion hath made his masterpieces). Even those well-versed in Willy’s lines will find they don’t often offer up their true selves from the silence of the page.

“I think anyone who finds studying Shakespeare difficult should remember that Shakespeare didn’t intend you to read these plays,” says actor Ian McKellen in the teaser video for Heuristic Shakespeare, a new series ofiPad apps that present the plays of Shakespeare simultaneously as text and as spoken performances. McKellen takes on the role of Prospero in “The Tempest,” the first of 37 planned apps, one per play.


The idea is that having Shakespeare’s lines come to life as speech is key to understanding them – but just in case, the app comes with extensive extras like timelines, at-a-glance plot summaries, and video discussions with the actors about characters and themes.

PRO It’s a perfect app for students — you can write notes, highlight text, and export your work wherever you need it to go. And it’s a good two pounds lighter than that Norton anthology of yours.

CON You’ll have to wait a bit for anything beyond “The Tempest” (as well as a version compatible beyond the iPad), but how poor are they that have not patience!

Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at mbrodeur@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MBrodeur.