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Macbeth (RSC Live from Stratford) @ Nottingham Broadway

At the moment of Duncan’s death, a timer set at two hours appeared on the upstage wall, and began counting down. Polly Findlay’s Macbeth – and Christopher Ecclestone’s titular monarch – shifted from that point into an inevitable decline, the ever-present clock reminding Macbeth of the inevitable consequences of his fatal action. And with two …

Périclès, Prince de Tyr (Cheek by Jowl) @ Les Gémeaux, Sceaux

NB This piece is based on the first two public performance as well as the final two pre-opening rehearsal runs. I am grateful to Cheek by Jowl for so generously allowing me to observe the final stages of preparation. Cheek by Jowl last assayed Pericles in 1984/5 in an acclaimed production that Carole Wood declared …

Julius Caesar @ The Bridge Theatre

On February 14th 2018, two weeks after the new Bridge Theatre’s Julius Caesar opened, seventeen people were killed at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. As part of the international outcry against gun ownership and violence that followed, numerous visceral, devastating accounts of the survivors’ experience of the attack circulated, along with graphic accounts of …

The Winter’s Tale (National Theatre) @ The Dorfman

I’m something of a Winter’s Tale completist these days, so it was a joy to get to see the National’s new touring version for young people. Stripped down to an hour and five minutes, Justin Audibert’s pared-down production took a complex and devastating play, and turned it into a heartwarming, and often uncompromising, examination of …

All’s Well that Ends Well (Shakespeare’s Globe) @ The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

In the end, I only saw two productions at the Globe while it was under Emma Rice’s leadership. This wasn’t by design – I loved Rice’s work with Kneehigh and, irrespective of the ongoing complaints about her treatment of the space, I thoroughly enjoyed the version of her Midsummer Night’s Dream that the BBC broadcast …

Edward II (Lazarus) @ Greenwich Theatre

‘Edward the First is dead’. Announced by a klaxon, this harsh voiceover opened Lazarus’s Edward II with a threat and a challenge. As the audience filed in, the stage had gradually filled with anonymous men, suited but jacket-less and barefoot, walking with measured, stately bobs. The combination of purposeful gait but seemingly random direction created …

The Tempest (Bilimankhwe International Theatre) @ Lakeside Arts Centre

Bilimankhwe’s latest project, The Tempest, is a potentially fascinating concept. Bringing together European and African artists, director Kate Stafford cast actors from Malawi and Zimbabwe as Ariel and Caliban, and a multi-racial British cast as the colonising Europeans, building into the production from the start a series of power relationships with the potential to comment …

Coriolanus (RSC/Live from Stratford) @ The Royal Shakespeare Theatre/Nottingham Broadway

Much was made in the pre-show paratexts for the RSC’s live broadcast of Coriolanus of the play’s contemporaneity, and at the same time the general nature of that contemporaneity. Coriolanus, as Haydn Gwynne suggested, is a play that always feels contemporary. In fact, this was one of the least specifically resonant Coriolani(?) I’ve seen for …

Mucedorus (Read not Dead) @ The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe

Read Not Dead is currently in the grip of the Before Shakespeare project, offering a series of readings curated to show off some of the finest, genre-bending plays of the late sixteenth century. Mucedorus followed The Rare Triumphs of Love and Fortune and Fidele and Fortunio, and I was delighted to join the Before Shakespeare …

Hamlet (Almeida) @ The Harold Pinter Theatre

My expectations have, over the last few years, been set very low for West End Shakespeare; a result of sitting through so many celebrity-headed, bland and conservative productions. An Almeida transfer of a Robert Icke production, however, and one that prompted such divisive reactions, is a different matter and, even transplanted to a more unfriendly …