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The Taming of the Shrew @ Shakespeare’s Globe

NB – this review is of a production still in preview. In fact, not only was the Globe’s new production of The Taming of the Shrew still in preview, but the understudies weren’t yet fully rehearsed, as became apparent as the production’s interval stretched out to half an hour with still no sign of the …

Doctor Faustus (RSC) @ The Swan Theatre

Watching Maria Aberg’s production of Doctor Faustus in the Swan, I found it hard not to think of A-level drama projects. This isn’t just because I’m speaking at a sixth-form study day at the RSC next month tying in with this production, but because of the deliberately DIY aesthetic of the production, with its gaudy …

The Hollow Crown: Henry VI Part 1 @ The BBC

Given the relative monarchism and conservatism that often marks the BBC’s Shakespeare adaptations, it’s quite something to hear the new Hollow Crown beginning with Judi Dench in voiceover intoning choice excerpts of Ulysses’ famous ‘degree’ speech from Troilus and Cressida. With a slight pause before them, the words “Take but degree away, and mark what …

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation (RSC/Lovelace Theatre) @ Theatre Royal, Nottingham

The RSC’s much-heralded return to regional touring was already a phenomenon before it opened. Erica Whyman’s audacious experiment is touring a full RSC production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to cities across the UK, with a different amateur theatre company joining them at each venue to play the Mechanicals and a fairy train for Titania …

Kings of War (Toneelgroep Amsterdam) @ The Barbican Theatre

In 2009 I was lucky enough to see Toneelgroep Amsterdam perform Ivo van Hove’s Roman Tragedies at the Barbican. That mammoth reworking of Coriolanus, Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra remains one of my lifetime theatrical highlights – not just for its length and ambition, but for its cohesive use of space, its innovative flexibility …

Cymbeline (Shakespeare’s Globe) @ The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Will Tosh’s essay in the programme for Cymbeline considers how that play – and others of this era of the King’s Men – were written to exploit the available technologies of the recently acquired Blackfriars Playhouse. It seems fitting, to that end, that Sam Yates’s production of Cymbeline itself makes flexible use of what is …

Othello (Shakespeare Theatre Company) @ Sidney Harman Hall, Washington DC

Much has been made of the casting of an actor of Pakistani descent, Faran Tahir, as a Muslim Othello in Shakespeare Theatre Company’s new production. Artistic Director Michael Kahn, in the production’s programme, suggests that this is a first for the company, and draws specifically on the fallout in the Middle East following the collapse …

Women Beware Women (American Shakespeare Center) @ The Blackfriars, Staunton, VA

After the previous day’s sprint-to-the-finish The Sea Voyage, it was pleasing to see the ASC ensemble shift the pace for Middleton’s Women Beware Women. This perfectly cast production drew on the established relationships and good humour that have characterised all the shows I’ve seen at the Blackfriars, but also lingered on soliloquies and set-pieces to …

The Sea Voyage (American Shakespeare Center) @ The Blackfriars, Staunton, VA

I think I may be the first person to see two separate productions of Fletcher and Massinger’s The Sea Voyage within a couple of months of one another, and I was delighted to see that the play continues to hold up in performance. The American Shakespeare Center’s production was part of the annual Actors’ Renaissance …

The Winter’s Tale (Cheek by Jowl) @ Les Gemeaux

I was planning deliberately not to blog about Cheek by Jowl’s The Winter’s Tale. Not only did I see the first two previews, at a point when (even by Cheek by Jowl’s fluid standards) the show was still developing, but I also spent a few days in rehearsals with the company in December as part …