Although often deemed a ‘problem play’, All’s Well That Ends Well can also be said to be progressive. Our heroine gets a lot of stage time, soliloquies and – for want of a better word – sass.
And yet, some of the characters are lacking. We may never know why Shakespeare chose to write them as he did, but (and perhaps because we are not 100% sure of the final play) the idea that Helen and Bertram live ‘happily ever after’ because she’s carrying his child is a bit ridiculous.
Outdoor summer touring Shakespeare shows are about as British as they come. This one by Bear in the Air, apart from this short stop at the Jack, is no exception. There’s no dominant production concept, but the cast of six zip through the trimmed down script with confidence and energy. The performances are consistently excellent though some of the directorial choices mean there are issues.
Shakespeare depicts Richard II as an ineffective and selfish ruler with little regard for his people or country. Instead of ruling fairly, he wastes the country’s money on unnecessary wars and steals from citizens to recoup the costs. In director Annie McKenzie’s production, this results in a kingdom ridden with violence and poverty, signified by costumes little more than filthy rags, copious stage blood, and recurring fights. This concept largely works but is undermined by a slow start, unneeded movement sequences, and some inconsistent handling of the text. Though the second half dramatically improves, the first is somewhat baggy and lacking in urgency, reducing the cumulative impact of the whole.
“A man may break a word with you, sir, and words are but wind; Ay, and break it in your face, so he break it not behind.”
It is a brave author that uses the word ‘comedy’ in the title of a play. Expectations are high, humour is anticipated and disappointment likely. Happily, this is not the case with the RSC’s current production of William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors: a tale of mistaken identity and separation (of two pairs of twins) at birth.
The Royal Shakespeare Company flung open their locked playhouse doors with a new project that engaged audiences in a socially distanced but immersive manner: they put the making process of a play online for anyone to watch. From 1- 13 June, audiences (or rather Vimeo viewers) could join the cast and creatives of Henry VI Part One every weekday for live streams of the company’s morning physical and voice warm-ups, lunchtime rehearsals, and evening green rooms that answered audience questions and allowed the team to expand on their crafts, normally kept behind the scenes. All the live streams were available to watch until 25 June. If uncovering a rehearsal process doesn’t sound unconventional enough, the show did not hit the stage boards. Instead, the final performance consisted of a live-streamed, rehearsal room run-through from the RSC’s Ashcroft Room on 23 June.
Freya, a teenager, is dealing with the micro-universe of lockdown life. She delves into music to evade an annoying younger sibling and two stressed-out parents struggling with employment insecurities. While dealing with home school, Freya daydreams about a boy and wishes she could know if her dreams are reciprocated. Enter Mab, Shakespeare’s neglected character now brought centre-stage in this new play by Danielle Pearson.
About four and a half months since seeing last seeing live, in-person performance, I’m in a park 20 minutes away from my flat, about to watch a one-person, outdoor show. It feels slightly surreal given the times we live in, but Bard in the Yard embraces that, and truly lifts a mirror up to pandemic life today.
This is Tim Crouch’s retelling of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night through the eyes of the
blighted and picked-upon puritan, Malvolio. It’s the fourth time Crouch has written such an adaptation, which he hopes will “unlock Shakespeare for young audiences”.
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.
“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.