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Veeram @ Ulster Museum

One of the many advantages of Ramona Wray and Mark Thornton Burnett hosting this year’s British Shakespeare Association conference in Belfast was that, in line with their research interests, the conference featured an extraordinary line-up of international Shakespearean film. I didn’t get to all, but I was pleased to catch the British premiere of Veeram, …

King Lear @ The BBC

Richard Eyre is quite well-represented in the category of made-for-TV films of King Lear; he directed the screen version of his own National Theatre production back in 1998 and now, twenty years later and with a more substantial budget, he directs a rare one-off television film. That budget doesn’t particularly register in the cramped sets, …

Julius Caesar (Donmar/Illuminations) @ The Broadway, Nottingham

I missed all performances of Phyllida Lloyd’s Shakespeare Trilogy when they originally played at the Donmar and, latterly, King’s Cross, so I was thrilled to hear that they would be coming to cinemas. The suddenness of Julius Caesar’s appearance, and the relative lack of marketing, were hugely disappointing, however. Whereas NT Live and Live from …

Macbeth (GSP Studios) – private pre-release screening @ The Courthouse Hotel, London

Macbeth is a play that has a strong association in the imaginary with its implied landscapes. The images of the heaths, mountains, caves and woods of Scotland, first captured in engravings of scenes from the play in the eighteenth century, and culminating in films such as those of Roman Polanski (1971) and Justin Kurzel (2015), …

Richard II (National Theatre/Illuminations) on DVD

We owe Illuminations a huge debt of gratitude. Its ongoing ‘Screen Plays’ series, reviving and making available classic television productions, has already brought us An Age of Kings and The Wars of the Roses, and now it delivers a beautifully transferred recording of Deborah Warner’s seminal Richard II, the 1997 television version of the 1995 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

MUSE OF FIRE (A Shakespeare Odyssey) on DVD

MUSE OF FIRE is an unlikely film. Two British actors, Dan Poole and Giles Terera, begin from the premise that Shakespeare is scary, offputting, difficult, and decide to ‘overcome their fears’ by undertaking a road trip taking in London, Stratford, Elsinore, Madrid, Yale and Hollywood ‘to discover everything they can about tackling Shakespeare, recognized by many …

Macbeth @ Hyde Park Cinema, Leeds

Justin Kurzel’s new film of Macbeth, one of the most frequently filmed of all Shakespeare’s plays, arrives carrying with it the threat of modishness. Capitalising on the success of the Game of Thrones ‘medieval’ aesthetic template, and starring the so-hot-right-now Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, themselves successful arthouse/mainstream crossover actors, the film’s formula for artistic …