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Queen Margaret @ The Royal Exchange, Manchester

The idea of rewriting Shakespeare’s first tetralogy to focus on the character of Queen Margaret – the only character to appear alive in all four plays – is a good one, though not original; Charlene Smith’s research has found some twenty-six, with more doubtless to be turned up. Still, it’s rare for one to come …

The Merry Wives of Windsor (RSC/Live from Stratford-upon-Avon) @ Broadway, Nottingham

I’ll get this out of the way first; the opening sequence of the RSC’s The Merry Wives of Windsor is in competition for the worst thing I’ve ever seen on the RSC stage. Over the silhouette of a town was heard the voice of a messenger arriving at William Shakespeare’s lodgings, bearing a letter from …

Emilia @ Shakespeare’s Globe

All summer, the Globe has been playing fast and loose with the meaningfulness of the name ‘Emilia’ recurring in three of this season’s plays (Othello, The Winter’s Tale, The Two Noble Kinsmen). Along with implying that audiences can ‘follow’ the character through the plays (thankfully, the individual productions made no attempt to force the connection), …

Othello @ Shakespeare’s Globe

A lot of the commentary around Claire van Kampen’s new production of Othello at the Globe has concerned the laughter being aroused by the production; and, as ever, this commentary roughly takes two different angles. Is the laughter part of a company strategy that is deliberately mining the comedy in the play? Or are the …

As You Like It @ Shakespeare’s Globe

Everyone who complained about Michelle Terry ‘casting herself’ as Hamlet in the Globe ensemble’s other production should be forced to watch the joyful (and, imho, superior) As You Like It, and use the same logic to account for the Globe’s Artistic Director, on hands and knees, scraping along the floor and baaing as one of …

The Two Noble Kinsmen @ Shakespeare’s Globe

Barrie Rutter’s Northern Broadsides were one of the first companies to perform in the incipient Shakespeare’s Globe, and in many ways that company’s ensemble ethos, physicality and love of music make them ideal inhabitants of the outdoor amphitheatre. In his first production since retiring from Broadsides, Rutter showed no sign of leaving behind that company’s …

The Winter’s Tale @ Shakespeare’s Globe

Ever since I was blown away by the Globe’s touring production of The Winter’s Tale a decade ago, I’ve been longing to see the play in the main Globe space. For better or worse, the theatre is a natural enabler of laughter; so how does the final awakening of faith, the injunction not to stir, …

Hamlet @ Shakespeare’s Globe

Michelle Terry’s first season as Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe has shown a deep engagement with the Globe’s history in its combination of old and new, and nowhere was that more evident that in Hamlet. The introduction of a Globe ensemble, an actor-led rehearsal process (with Federay Holmes and Elle While taking nominal director credits), …

Macbeth @ Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre, York

NB while to my knowledge there is no official press night, this piece concerns the first ‘preview’ of Macbeth. ‘I begin to grow a’weary of the sun’. Macbeth looked it, too. On the hottest day of the year so far, the cast of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre’s Macbeth performed in direct sunlight in temperatures of 31 …

The Duchess of Malfi (RSC) @ The Swan Theatre

I do hate Stratford-upon-Avon. Not only is it a six-hour round train journey from the East Midlands, but a single trespassing incident resulted in two cancellations and, most selfishly, me missing the first half hour of Maria Aberg’s spectacular (and spectacularly bloody) Duchess of Malfi. I am reliably informed by authorities (read: Twitter) that the …