"The ambitious project of the Shakespeare NOW series is to bridge the gap between 'scholarly thinking and a public audience' and 'public audience and scholarly thinking'. Scholars are encouraged to write in a way accessible to a general readership and readers to rise to the challenge and not be afraid of new ideas and the adventure they offer. There are other bridges the series is ambitious to cross: 'formal, political or theoretical boundaries' - history and philosophy, theory, and performance." English Vol. 58, 2009
"In The King and I, Philippa Kelly gives us an original and very personal response to a play she obviously loves and knows intimately. Remarkably, she is able to use the play as a prism through which to contemplate her life journey and to construct a commentary on modern Australia - refreshing and insightful."
Befitting its inclusion in a series entitled 'Shakespeare Now' and written with wry humour, humanity and passion, this concentrated and beguiling book not only opens up fresh ways of making the play relevant to students, but also points towards challenges in understanding and valuing Shakespeare today.
Reviewed in Cahiers Elisabethains
Kelly's way of thinking about art as alive within culture is contagious: while reading I wrestled with about precisely how I think this play is embedded within our culture and alive within myself... it is energising to read a book unashamedly invested in exploring the complex intersection between life and art.
The collection is much more than just a collection of personal thoughts on the play and its place in the writer's history . . . and it is hard to do it justice here. [Kelly's] approach moves from her own subjective reading and experience to open the play out potentially for others - critics, teachers, students, theatre professionals, and 'the general reader' . . .The book bridges both literary criticism and theatre studies, as well as providing a scholarly and personal account of the play. The Year's Work in English Studies, vol. 93
"In The King and I, Philippa Kelly has done a rare thing: she has written an original and deeply personal book about a Shakespearean tragedy that has been the object of exhausting and seemingly exhaustive critical attention. By bringing her life experience to bear on King Lear, by opening herself so completely and undefensively to its words and characters, Kelly illuminates the play's enduring power and freshness. At once a touching autobiographical memoir and a reflection on Australian history and culture, The King and I is a meditation on the contemporary relevance of Shakespeare's most searing tragedy."
"A fascinating exploration of Australian history and culture as seen through an intensely personal grapple with Shakespeare's monumental tragedy. Ms. Kelly's American readers will find that her observations about racism, immigration and the treatment of the elderly hit uncomfortably close to home."
"A strikingly original meditation on King Lear and Australian life, in which both the play and the culture are illuminated."
'For teachers who agonise over how to make Shakespeare "relevant", this is a luminously inspiring book. Kelly has packaged her wisdom and insights in an absolute page-turner about a girl growing to be adult and citizen, her mates from Lear always at her side. She shows how Lear can transform lives. What a gem!'
"In The King and I, Philippa Kelly, compelling Shakespeare scholar and dramaturge, stages a new Lear for us. She reads its dramatic themes into the landscape of an Australian life, and via that landscape, re-sculpts our own ways of encountering Lear. A rare and precious achievement."
Featured at no. 1 in the Independents top 10 listings within the 'Top Books' feature in The Courier-Mail.