mon 10/08/2020

Shakespeare

The Taming of the Shrew, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse review - a confused and toothless mess

Say what you will about The Taming of the Shrew (and you’ll be in good company), but it is one of Shakespeare’s clearest plays. Asked to summarise the action of, say, Richard II or Love’s Labours Lost and you might lose your way somewhere between...

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Kunene and the King, Ambassadors Theatre review - a Shakespearean voyage through the legacy of apartheid

John Kani’s Kunene and the King is history in microcosm. Its premiere at the RSC last year, in this co-production with Cape Town’s Fugard Theatre, coincided with the 25th anniversary of the end of apartheid, offering a chance to assess the momentous...

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Ophelia review - tragic no more

Ophelia is one of Shakespeare’s most iconic yet underdeveloped dramatic roles. A sweet and naïve girl, she’s driven mad by Hamlet’s wavering affections and her father’s death. She was often the subject of paintings, yet rarely of novels until the...

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Henry VI, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse review - a lively vortex

No Joan of Arc means no Henry VI Part One. France, where we left the victorious Henry V - the superb Sarah Amankwah, a shining light of this company - in the Globe's summer history plays, only figures briefly in the last act of a candelelit,...

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& Juliet, Shaftesbury Theatre review - the Bard with dancefloor bangers

It’s bright, it’s brash, it’s a gazillion times camper than Christmas: but is it such stuff as theatrical hits are made on? If that misquotation is already making you cringe, then this glittery pop juggernaut probably isn’t for you – but it is,...

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Measure for Measure, RSC, Barbican review - behind the times

Because he dramatised power, Shakespeare never really goes out of fashion. Treatments of his plays do though, and the RSC’s Measure for Measure, a transfer from Stratford set in turn-of-the-century Vienna, feels distinctly slack. The backdrop is...

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'Shakespeare is mistakenly considered something for the elite': director Claire McCarthy on 'Ophelia'

Ophelia is one of Shakespeare's most enduring characters in both literature and art, and yet her part in Hamlet is limited to few lines and fewer motivations. Based on Lisa Klein's novel, the new film Ophelia challenges this interpretation. Daisy...

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The Taming of the Shrew, Barbican review - different but still problematic

This is one play by Shakespeare ripe for tinkering. It's well nigh impossible now to take it at face value and still find romance and fun in the bullying: the physical and psychological abuse as a supposedly problematic wife is "tamed" into...

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As You Like It, Barbican review – uneven comedy lacks bite

Even the most ardent Bardophile has to admit that most of the time the Fool doesn’t shine in a Shakespeare production. Lamentable wordplay combined with philosophy limper than a dead capon means that with a few honourable exceptions, his interludes...

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Ian McKellen On Stage, Harold Pinter Theatre review - a master relishes the joy of theatre

Reviewing Ian McKellen's show is, in one sense, like appraising the Taj Mahal or Mount Everest: he too is an awe-inspiring phenomenon. In another sense, Sir Ian is not like that at all, going out of his way to be available to the adoring patrons...

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Macbeth, Chichester Festival Theatre review - cosmic yet closely crafted

There’s a fine balance between the cosmic and the closely crafted in director Paul Miller’s Macbeth, his first production in the expansive space that is Chichester’s main stage. It comes across as a drama unravelling in the wide open spaces of...

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A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare's Globe – blazing-coloured, kick-ass carnival

Welcome to A Midsummer Night’s Dream as carnival – a blazing-coloured, hot-rhythmed, kick-ass take in which Oberon appears at one point as a blinged-up Elizabeth I and Puck exerts his powers as a flash-mob. Last month the glitter-ball hedonism of...

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