… whip smart, immensely enjoyable …
Eleanor Rhode‘s vibrant interpretation re-energises what could be seen as a bitty, minor tragedy into a fast moving procession of Continue reading “King John : The Swan, RSC”
… speeches glitter in the rust …
A high spirited production by RSC veteran Gregory Doran which brings out the best in this most conflicted of Shakespeare’s plays.
In a Mad Max-ian theatre of mis-matched armour and steampunk motorbikes, the glittering speeches of truth and power are spoken against Continue reading “Troilus and Cressida : RSC”
… the only way is Windsor …
A witty production by RSC first timer Fiona Laird which brings out the best in this Shakespeare farce.
David Troughton plays a truly gargantuan Falstaff being outwitted by the sassy Wives, Continue reading “The Merry Wives of Windsor : RSC”
… effervescent Restoration comedy …
Sophie Stanton absolutely shines as the exuberant Mrs Rich. It’s obvious she is having the time of her life as this widow in search of QUALITY to match her enormous wealth. Continue reading “The Fantastic Follies of Mrs Rich : The Swan, RSC”
… sparkling classic woven with biographical context …
What another version of Christmas Carol!? Yes, I thought that too. Except David Edgar‘s adaptation playfully weaves Dickens’ personal story and his drive for social reform between the familiar scenes. This adds a thoughtful depth and texture to this feelgood Christmas musical.
As the Evening Standard‘s reviewer wrote : ‘David Edgar’s politically charged new version, feels both plausibly Victorian and sharply relevant.’
With an excellent performance from Phil Davis as Ebenezer Scrooge and some great supporting actors including as John Hodgkinson as a most generous Mr Fezziwig and Brigid Zengeni as the bountiful Christmas Present, the production is a great success.
For more information, visit the theatre’s website here.
… fabulous cod C17th comedy …
After the success of his One Man, Two Guvnors, Richard Bean has returned to his native Hull, reprising the dilemma of a man serving two masters. This time he has adapted the true story of Sir John Hotham charged with holding the city’s arsenal during the Civil War. Which side should he declare for: Parliament or the King? He is doing his best to be seen supporting both.
With frenetic slapstick and volleys of wit, it’s a great vehicle for a very likeable Mark Addy. He and Caroline Quentin battle and scheme their way around each other and his impossible situation. There’s a strong Hull accent and many affectionate local and Shakespearean references. The supporting cast had some brilliant scenes including the almost show-stopping, Ben Goffe, as both King Charles, a child ghost and an executioner; also, Jordan Metcalfe and Rowan Polonski, as the Prince of York and Prince Rupert respectively.
It was such a pleasurable evening: a fabulous cod C17th comedy – and you really can’t have too many of those.
As part of the UK City of Culture 2017 celebrations, this is a RSC co-production with Hull Truck Theatre. Its first performance was on 24 February and it transferred to Stratford on 31 March. Limited ticket availability can be found here.
… a Christmas institution …
A trip to the pantomime in Chippy is a Christmas institution and our visit to Robinson Crusoe and the Pirate Queen was a sheer delight. As always, the volunteer staff are so welcoming and the little Victorian style theatre so delightful, it’s a treat to sit back and watch the nonsense dance across the small stage with superb comic timing, great visual gags, and with an excellent cast really enjoying themselves. (Possibly too much as it’s the end of the season …)
The Theatre at Chipping Norton has been staging pantomimes for the past 40 years and really does know how to involve the audience not just with “It’s behind you!”, thrown sweets and singing competitions, but also with a magical, funny scene played out with puppets above the audience’s heads, a small troupe of young actors and some outstanding sets. As far as I know The Theatre has never employed celebrities to sell the tickets nor do they work pop songs into their scripts, preferring to create outstanding pantomime that has no need of ephemeral support.
It was a particularly strong cast this season with the superb Andrew Pepper back for his second year as the dame, Mrs Camilla Crusoe. Her outrageous dresses, designed by Emily Stuart, could have taken a curtain call all by themselves.
The Theatre‘s delightful home began life as a Salvation Army Citadel and its designers and engineers were those behind many Victorian Music Halls, so it was perfectly proportioned for its new life as a theatre. It was discovered by two RSC actors, Tamara and John Malcolm in 1968 and after much fund raising, The Theatre was opened in 1975. If you haven’t been, you should. For further details of The Theatre and their upcoming season, please click here.
And for video clips of the dazzling Andrew Pepper, click here for his website.
… stunning effects bring Shakespeare’s masque to life …
Masques, as Gregory Doran explains in his introduction, ” … were the multimedia events of their day, using innovative technology … to produce astonishing effects, with moving lights, and stage machinery that could make people fly, and descend from the clouds” and with this stunning production, he succeeds in bringing the wondrous spectacle of a C17th masque into the c21st theatre.
The stage is an enormous ribbed carcass of a ship set stark and glowering against a changing backdrop which is used to great effect to complement the action with extraordinary skies and gorgeous apparitions. In the centre, gauzes are dropped and raised showing drowning sailors, tree trunks and ghostly visitations; and amongst it all, Ariel appears as multiple ethereal projections echoing his stage presence. All of this is the result of a two year collaboration between Intel, Imaginarium and the RSC and it is a truly ravishing experience.
Unfortunately, I felt the director’s more unadorned approach to the acting of the play meant that the cast struggled to live up to their grand surroundings. Simon Russell Beale came across more as a truculent and querulous Dad than a magisterial magician, though I must say, other reviewers found him outstanding. Michael Billington in The Guardian, for instance, talks of “his haunting portrait of culpable negligence and comprehensive mercy. ” Read the rest of his comments here for a much more appreciative review of Beale’s performance.
I enjoyed the comedy of Simon Trinder as a clownish Trinculo and Tony Jayawardena as the drunken butler, Stephano; and will certainly remember the opera singers, Samantha Hay and Jennifer Witton, playing the goddesses Ceres and Juno, for their spectacular entrances in the masque within the play.
I thoroughly enjoyed this Tempest and I hope Gregory Doran‘s visionary use of technology will be the start of a new chapter at the RSC. Ticket availability can be found on their website here.