Tag Archives: Shakespeare

Henry V, with Jude Law, Noël Coward Theatre, December 2013

“O for a muse of fire … a kingdom for a stage, princes to act …”. And though they were but actors all, confined to the stage of the Noël Coward Theatre, this Michael Grandage production came over with conviction. The heavy weathered boards of which sets and stage was made gave a feeling of …

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The Tempest, Globe Theatre, May 2012

This Jeremy Herrin production grabs our attention with a great bang at the start … followed by the storm at sea with passengers and crew swaying and falling on the tilting deck of a ship, despite the fixed stage. Imagination? Indeed. And my lasting impression is the contrast between the bewitched characters, with their ready …

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The Tempest, Metropolitan Opera live cinema relay, November 2012

This remarkable opera by Thomas Adès, to a libretto by Meredith Oakes, dares turn Shakespeare’s play into an opera, and succeeds. First performed in 2004 at Covent Garden in an intriguing production by Tom Cairns, it was originally co-produced with the Copenhagen Opera House and the Opéra National du Rhin in Strasbourg. This production at …

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Twelfth Night, Apollo Theatre, November 2012

In Shakespeare’s day a ‘Lord of Misrule’ would call for entertainment and songs on Twelfe Night, a tradition going back to the medieval Feast of Fools and even the Roman Saturnalia. His play celebrates this by making a fool of the miserable Malvolio, hilariously played here by Stephen Fry, with Sir Toby Belch and others representing the spirit …

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Antony and Cleopatra, Chichester Festival Theatre, CFT, September 2012

At the start of this production Cleopatra stands in a long golden gown with her back to the audience, and before committing suicide towards the end she appears in the identical position. Thus was framed Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, brilliantly served by Peter McKintosh’s fine designs and beautiful lighting by Paul Pyant. The split-level, with ladders …

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Timon of Athens, National Theatre, NT Olivier, August 2012

Timon is a tragic figure who fails utterly to understand himself, and therefore cannot come close to understanding others. His vast wealth is from lands he owns and mortgages, and he spends it eagerly on his acquaintances along with others come to him for help. When there is no more left he abandons the city, and then chances …

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The Fairy Queen, Glyndebourne, July 2012

A  Midsummer Night’s Dream as Gesamtkunstwerk, with actors, singers, and dancers in Purcell’s remarkable semi-opera, is given here in an eclectic production by Jonathan Kent combining the seventeenth century with modern times — linked of course by the fairies. It all starts in a Restoration drawing room with a Restoration version of Shakespeare. His play within a …

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Henry V, Globe Theatre, London, June 2012

Jamie Parker in the title role gave a superb account of a king come of age since his youthful indiscretions, and that wonderful St. Crispin’s day speech, responding to Westmorland’s wishing a few more men for the forthcoming battle of Agincourt, is delivered as if he is making it up as he goes along. In …

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Falstaff, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, May 2012

The production team for Robert Carsen’s new staging of Verdi’s Falstaff received a mixed reception. Why so? This is a co-production with La Scala where it will feature in Verdi’s bicentenary there next year. Carsen has updated the setting of Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor from Elizabethan times to 1950s England, with Sir John and other men in hunting red at …

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Macbeth, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, May 2011

… it was huge pleasure to hear Liudmyla Monastyrska as Lady Macbeth, with her superb vocal technique, and her breathtaking power.

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All’s Well That Ends Well, Globe Theatre, London, May 2011

A young Count, Bertram is brought up in the same household as Helena, a doctor’s daughter he has neither courted nor encouraged. She loves him, is desperate to marry him, and his mother favours the match, but his adamant refusal is over-ruled by the king, so he leaves home, and we should sympathise with him. …

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Derek Jacobi as King Lear, Richmond Theatre, April 2011

From the first moments of irascible folly to the final moments of grief as he cradles the body of his dearest Cordelia, Derek Jacobi’s Lear came alive on stage in a way that made this relatively long play seem to race past in no time. The production by Michael Grandage, touring from the Donmar, uses …

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Promised End, English Touring Opera, Royal Opera House Linbury Studio, October 2010

One might expect an operatic treatment of King Lear to be of Wagnerian proportions, yet Alexander Goehr’s version lasts only one and three quarter hours, including an interval.

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Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, Globe Theatre, London, July 2010

Roger Allam was gloriously endearing as Falstaff — one could not imagine a better portrayal.

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Henry VIII, Globe Theatre, London, May 2010

The principal role is for Cardinal Wolsey, who has some memorable lines, particularly during his final speech, “Had I but served my God with half the zeal I served my King, He would not in mine age have left me naked to mine enemies”.

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Macbeth, Globe Theatre, London, April 2010

This production by Lucy Bailey presents a Dante-like vision of hell … The witches in their dark red nun-like robes are gatekeepers of hell — tall, medium and very short, they occasionally skulk around the stage ready to draw the characters to their eternal doom.

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Bingo: Scenes of Money and Death, Minerva Theatre, Chichester, April 2010

There are six scenes, each interesting enough in itself, but lacking overall momentum. The one I enjoyed most was the fourth, where Ben Johnson, entertainingly played by Richard McCabe, is the life and soul of an evening of heavy drinking with Shakespeare.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream, English Touring Opera, Sadler’s Wells, London, March 2010

While much of the music and action is on a rather ethereal level, an excellent contrast was created in this production by the interaction between Tytania and Bottom as a priapic ass.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Rose Theatre, Kingston-on-Thames, February 2010

The play was produced in about 1595, at a time when Shakespeare’s company, the Chamberlain’s Men, were regularly playing to Elizabeth’s court and it’s quite likely she saw it. In any event it was a masterstroke of Peter Hall to have Judi Dench play the part of Titania, and I found her entirely convincing.

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The Winter’s Tale, at the Old Vic, June 2009

The role of Leontes was brilliantly played by Simon Russell Beale

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Romeo and Juliet, Globe Theatre, May 2009

As Romeo we had Adetomiwa Edun giving a passionate performance, and commanding the stage with his presence

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