The Bardathon

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Love’s Sacrifice (RSC) @ The Swan Theatre, Stratford

It is a little dispiriting to find the first of this summer’s Swan plays is another Caroline revenge tragedy in which women are dragged around by their hair and thrown to the ground. This directorial shorthand for women-being-treated-badly is becoming worryingly de rigueur, and its shock-value diminishes with constant repetition and normalisation, especially at the …

Romeo and Juliet in Harlem (dir. Aleta Chapelle) @ Warwick Arts Centre Cinema

The second of the two films in Warwick’s annual Shakespeare Film Day was a very special occasion – the first screening in the UK (probably) of the first Shakespeare film made by an African-American woman. Aleta Chappelle’s most significant feature as director to date, which used a crowd-funded trailer to attract funding, is a low budget …

Haider (dir. Vishal Bhardwaj) @ Warwick Arts Centre Cinema

The third of Vishal Bhardwaj’s trilogy of Indian Shakespeare adaptations, following Maqbool and the excellent Omkara, is his most ambitious yet, and possibly the most aggressively political Shakespeare film I have ever seen. The film, set at the height of troubles in Kashmir in 1995, has been the subject of a huge amount of controversy, …

Measure for Measure (Cheek by Jowl) @ The Barbican – live stream

I have already written two reviews of Cheek by Jowl’s Measure for Measure (here and here), but tonight I had an opportunity to see it again, this time in the company’s first ever live broadcast. Firstly, it’s an extraordinary offering. A prestigious production being broadcast internationally for free online is a bold statement, and canny.  …

Measure for Measure (Cheek by Jowl) @ The Silk Street Theatre, Barbican

These notes supplement my review of the production in Moscow, here. The production I travelled to Moscow to see performed before a native speaking audience has made it at last to the UK, with a new Duke, an updated design and English-language (Shakespearean) surtitles. Although Cheek by Jowl defines itself as a multinational company, performances …

King Lear (Northern Broadsides) @ West Yorkshire Playhouse

A collaboration between great guest director and great company can create really wonderful work. The last time I saw a production by Jonathan Miller, it was his wonderful Hamlet at the Tobacco Factory, the first time that company had been directed by someone other than Andrew Hilton. And Northern Broadsides are always a joy to …

William Shakespeare: A Very Short Introduction by Stanley Wells

This month, Oxford University Press publishes William Shakespeare: A Very Short Introduction by one of the most esteemed living authors on Shakespeare, Stanley Wells. Wells, in addition to being one of our finest textual scholars, has devoted much of the last decade to a series of books aimed at a popular market, expanding his role …

Hamlet (Royal Exchange) @ The Broadway, Nottingham

Watching the Royal Exchange production of Hamlet on the big screen, in a specially recorded film version (still performed in front of an audience, but with a certain amount of editing work to make the most of key images), brought home to me the significance of much of the production’s work. While I enjoyed the …

The Revenger’s Tragedy (Lazarus Theatre Company) @ The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre

At ninety minutes long, Lazarus Theatre’s take on Middleton’s seminal revenge tragedy still felt leaden and ponderous, a dull take on a sparkling play. While the production was full of ideas and some striking performances, the eclectic cutting and rigid spatial organisation rendered the play frequently unintelligible and confusingly abrupt, obfuscating rather than clarifying the …

The Broken Heart (Shakespeare’s Globe) @ The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

My complaint about tragedies at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse so far has been the productions’ frustrating collective failure to realise that this is a space in which less can be more. In what seems to me to be a lack of confidence in the work of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, the tendency has been to ramp up …