The Sea Queen and Twelfth Night, The Scoop

by Laura Kressly

Since 2003, there has been a summer of free, open-air theatre at The Scoop, a sweeping, granite amphitheatre on the Thames next to City Hall. This year’s double-bill is a 90-minute version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and a new children’s musical, The Sea Queen. Performed by one cast doing double-duty, Twelfth Night is the far superior show though there is plenty to appeal to young children in The Sea Queen.

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10 Things I Hate About Taming of the Shrew, Greenwich Theatre

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by Meredith Jones Russell

“When men insist on telling women’s stories for them, not only do they miss the point of telling a story, but they tell it wrong too.”

Armed with a glitzy jacket, a notebook and a whole lot of anger, Gillian English uses William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew and it’s 1999 teen adaption 10 Things I Hate About You to explore gender roles in traditional and modern art and how they shape us as a society.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s Globe

by Laura Kressly

Viewed through a contemporary lens, this can be considered one of Shakespeare’s more problematic plays. A woman prisoner forced to marry her conqueror’s leader, a man trying to force his daughter into an arranged marriage, and fairies forcing teenagers and each other to fall in love, are key aspects of the story that can’t be cut and all are framed by comedy. But at Michelle Terry’s gaff, director Sean Holmes deals with the first admirably and embraces the chaos of the latter two in this psychedelic, fever-dream of an interpretation that is colourful, pacey and full of contemporary jokes.

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Outrageous Fortune, Greenwich Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

It’s 2019 and we’re in purgatory. Some (many?) might say hell, considering the late capitalist nightmare and and rise of right-wing extremism, but Gertrude, former Queen of Denmark, has assured us we’ve arrived in purgatory and will shortly be assigned to our own, personal patches of dusty, red rock.

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Richard III, Alexandra Palace

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by Louis Train

There’s an annoying trend among artists to draw explicit parallels between historical texts and the present day, tossing around words like ‘prescient’ and ‘timely’, and finding hints of Brexit in Arthur Miller plays like religious fanatics spotting the face of Jesus on toast. That’s not to say, however, that we can’t find broad reflections of our world in old stories: people are still people, just as interesting, lovely, and ugly as they ever have been.

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Paper Cinema’s Macbeth, Battersea Arts Centre

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By Laura Kressly

I’m a sucker for inventive adaptations of Shakespeare plays, so Paper Cinema’s Macbeth, a live-action, silent movie version, is hugely appealing. For 90 minutes a team of five use handheld cameras, desk lamps and hand-drawn illustrations to broadcast the story in visual form onto a large screen. Accompanied by a Celtic-inspired, cinematic score, this graphic novel/stop motion/object manipulation telling is enchanting – until I ask my companion, a Dutch woman who doesn’t know Macbeth, what she thought. 

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NetherBard, TheatreN16

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by Amy Toledano

In a man’s world, Budding Rose Productions is creating space where women take the lead, playing the kings, the warriors, and fools. And while our four actresses bring guts to this unique show, the potential for a feminist, Shakespearean world isn’t completely met. The characters feel quite 2D and a desperate need of fleshing out is in order to deliver such a powerful message.

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