The Bardathon

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Twelfth Night @ Liverpool Everyman

There was an awful moment in the closing night of the new Liverpool Everyman’s inaugural production of Twelfth Night, as Malvolio’s yellow stockings emerged, feet uppermost, through a trapdoor for an inverted prison sequence. The mechanism lifting the actor was misdirected, meaning that his feet pushed at the stage, which cracked and splintered before the …

The Massacre at Paris (The Dolphin’s Back) @ The Rose Playhouse, Bankside

At the end of yet another successful Read not Dead reading, over the wine and nibbles laid on by The Globe for the hardworking volunteer actors, coordinator James Wallace fell to chatting with some of the regulars. ‘You know’, mused James, ‘we’re all quite wonderful. We’ve collectively performed hundreds of the most obscure plays of …

The Knight of the Burning Pestle (Shakespeare’s Globe) @ The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Last year, one of my most read blogs was my review of the Globe’s rehearsed reading of Francis Beaumont’s The Knight of the Burning Pestle as part of the Read not Dead series. That review did the rounds and even got quoted in the Globe’s annual review. What made that performance one of the finest …

Galatea (Edward’s Boys) @ King Edward VI School

I first encountered Lyly in the form of a heavily cut production of Endymion performed by the junior boys of King Edward VI School in 2009, back before they were even known as Edward’s Boys. Having missed their 2010 Mother Bombie, it was something of a delight to return five years later and find Endymion’s …

Pericles (Ketterer’s Men) @ The Shakespeare Institute

For those of us who knew Lizz Ketterer, even partly or briefly, she remains a very present absence three years after her passing. The Trust set up in her memory raises funds to allow one promising young early modernist each year the opportunity to attend the RSC’s summer school; the bench in the garden of …

The Duchess of Malfi (Shakespeare’s Globe) @ The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

It is an absolute joy to see the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse up and running. Nestled in the Globe’s belly, jutting far into the foyer, this reimagining of a Jacobean indoor theatre is beautiful and invigorating. While its relative newness isn’t entirely to its advantage at the moment (the paint work just a little too crisp, …

Coriolanus (Donmar/NT Live) @ The Broadway, Nottingham

The Hiddleston effect is a very tangible thing. As the stalwart Emma Freud reminded international audiences in what was, frankly, the most banal interval interview NT Live has yet managed (which is saying something), Tom Hiddleston was recently voted Sexiest Man Alive by MTV, and his Coriolanus attracted the youngest audience I’ve yet seen to …

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Propeller) @ Sheffield Lyceum

The Bardathon has had a slow start this year, as writing and marking priorities haven’t given me a huge amount of time for theatre. New reviews will be further delayed as my first show of the year, Propeller’s wonderful A Midsummer Night’s Dream, was seen as part of a module trip. As many of my …

An Age of Kings (BBC/Illuminations)

In 1960, the BBC undertook an extraordinary project. Shakespeare’s eight history plays covering the reigns of Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, Edward IV, Edward V and Richard III were broadcast in fifteen hour-long episodes with a single ensemble company. Rehearsed quickly and recorded live, the films have been unavailable commercially until now, …

Henry V (Michael Grandage Company) @ The Noel Coward Theatre

Following the underwhelming and frustratingly conservative Midsummer Night’s Dream, I didn’t have high hopes for the second Shakespeare in Michael Grandage’s West End season. With promotion once again based entirely around a celebrity actor (Jude Law, returning to the director-actor partnership of Hamlet), a theatre and audience unsuited to the interventionist or radical political readings …