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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 …

Bill @ The Light, Leeds

Bill, the first big-screen venture from the team behind the phenomenally popular Horrible Histories television series, is perhaps the most British film since Paddington. Characters complain repeatedly about London house prices; aspiring artists are told to grow up and get a proper job (Anne Hathaway presumably running for Schools Minister…); foreigners landing on the English …

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Theatre for a New Audience) @ Nottingham Broadway

I’m yet, to my memory, to see a professional Shakespeare production in the US, so the decision to film and broadcast Julie Taymor’s spectacular thrust-stage take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a welcome one. Notwithstanding Spiderman (and perhaps that show’s cataclysmic production history unfairly detracts from the ambition and achievement therein), Taymor’s proven ability …