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Lear/Cordelia (1623 Theatre Company) @ Derby Theatres Studio

1623 Theatre’s latest production was one of their most ambitious to date: a one-act adaptation of King Lear followed by a new response play, Farrah Chaudhry’s Cordelia, with an accompanying set of workshops, talks and resources designed to link the play to dementia support and broader accessibility. On the evening I saw it, a huge …

Pericles (University College Cork/LittleShoes Productions) @ The Unitarian Church, Cork

I spent the first half of last week in Cork for the event ‘Celebrating Shakespeare 400: Performing Pericles, Prince of Tyre’. Part of the extensive Irish Shakespeare festival commemorating the 400 years since Shakespeare’s death, this event was billed as offering what appears to be only the second ever performance of Pericles in Ireland, coupled …

Iyalode of Eti (Utopia Theatre) @ Sheffield Theatres Studio

Utopia Theatre has been producing works rooted in the experience of the West African diaspora for a few years now, promoting the work of BAME actors and resituating classic texts in a Yoruban context. Perhaps predictably, the company’s first foray into early modern drama was the perennial Romeo and Juliet, adapted in Nigeria as This …

Mucedorus (Hull School of Drama, Music and Screen) @ The Donald Roy Theatre

Mucedorus (one of the very few ‘apocryphal’ plays I’ve not hitherto managed to see in the theatre, and yet the one on which I’ve spent most time) has perversely suffered from its reputation as the most ‘popular’ play of the early modern period (where ‘popularity’ is understood as a count of reprints, a measure with …

The Complete Deaths (Spymonkey) @ Hull Truck

It’s almost thirty years since the Reduced Shakespeare Company launched its mission of comprehensive compression, culminating in a repeated, increasingly speedy depiction of all of the deaths in Hamlet. Spymonkey, in their first Shakespeare-themed show, have now taken up their mantle with a full show devoted entirely to staging all of the onstage deaths in …

Black (dir. Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah) @ Broadway Cinema

Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah’s Black is painful and upsetting. It’s hardly the first film to reimagine Romeo and Juliet as an urban gang war, a setting that reappears from West Side Story to Romeo and Juliet in Harlem, and canonised as a reading by Baz Luhrmann’s inescapable film (quoted visually here in a …

Hamlet (RSC) @ The Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Seeing the same ensemble of actors take on Hamlet two days after Cymbeline, I was struck by the demands placed on a company performing these two long plays together – the mercifully shorter Hamlet still ran to an energetic three hours and fifteen minutes. And this is one of the consistently strongest ensembles I remember …

Cymbeline (RSC) @ The Royal Shakespeare Theatre

A couple of months ago, before the UK jumped the proverbial shark in the EU referendum, a line from Cymbeline was doing the rounds on social media as Brexiteers leapt on Shakespeare’s comment that Britain is A world by itself; and we will nothing pay For wearing our own noses. Deploying the time-honoured logic of …

Richard III (Almeida Live) @ Nottingham Broadway

I’d been warned to expect it, but even so, the scene of Ralph Fiennes’s Richard III raping Aislin McGuckin’s Queen Elizabeth towards the end of Rupert Goold’s new production came out of nowhere. Falling late in a mostly intelligent, finely characterised take on the play, Fiennes and McGuckin pulled out all the stops for their …

The Wars of the Roses (RSC/Illuminations) on DVD

The Wars of the Roses is one of those iconic productions – like Peter Brook’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream – that I never expected to get a chance to watch in full. Peter Hall and John Barton’s three-part condensation of the first tetralogy of history plays was one of the resounding triumphs of the young …