// Latest Posts

Screening The Royal Shakespeare Company: A Critical History, by John Wyver (Bloomsbury, 2019)

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s relationship with film stretches back to the very earliest days of that medium, with Frank Benson’s two-reel film of Richard III­ – now a staple of university Shakespeare On Film courses – shot on stage at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon; meanwhile, the company’s ongoing commitment to broadcasting its main …

Henry V, or Harry England @ Shakespeare’s Globe

When I saw Sarah Amankwah in Doctor Faustus at the Sam Wanamaker just before Christmas, I expressed a hope that she’d be a regular at the Globe. The fact that, with very little Shakespeare experience behind her, she has then taken the major through-line role of the Henries trilogy as Hal/Henry V, suggests I wasn’t …

Henry IV Part 2, or Falstaff @ Shakespeare’s Globe

As much as I love 2 Henry IV as a stand-alone play, I often find it suffers a little when presented as the middle part of a trilogy. Whereas 1 Henry IV describes a clear arc for Falstaff, in addition to excellent set pieces for the other characters, and Henry V has a stand-alone narrative …

Henry IV Part 1, or Hotspur @ Shakespeare’s Globe

Following the revisioning of England offered by the Globe’s Richard II in the Sam Wanamaker, a different creative team imagined an England that was still under construction in Hotspur, the first in a trilogy performed by a single eleven-person ensemble. The Globe itself seemed partly dismantled, with partially built pillars, panels missing from the tiring …

The Knight of the Burning Pestle (Cheek by Jowl) @ The Barbican Theatre

The Knight of the Burning Pestle opened exactly as one might imagine a Cheek by Jowl production to open. To eerie music, a group of stone-faced actors emerged from behind a central white block on a bare stage, each bringing a chair with them. The chairs were arranged in deliberately unpatterned positions around the stage, …

The Taming of the Shew (RSC Live from Stratford-upon-Avon @ Broadway Cinema

I’ve already written at length about Justin Audibert’s The Taming of the Shrew at the RSC, and a second viewing of it – this time courtesy of free tickets to the live broadcast, with thanks to the RSC social media team – helped clarify much of what makes the production work, but gave me little further insight …

Richard II (Shakespeare’s Globe) @ The Sam Wanamaker Theatre

What is England? Seeing Richard II the day after yet another missed deadline for the UK’s departure from the EU, in a climate of mass uncertainty about the nature of sovereignty and the future of the country, unavoidably presented difficult questions about what is at stake, both in the play and now. The uneasy laughter …

The Taming of the Shrew (RSC) @ The Royal Shakespeare Theatre

The setting for the RSC’s 2019 The Taming of the Shrew, the latest in a long line of attempts to find a way of making the play palatable as a comedy for the twenty-first century, ventured into the realms of speculative fiction. Director Justin Audibert’s concept imagined an alternative sixteenth century in which women were …

After Edward (Shakespeare’s Globe) @ The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Rarely have response plays so explicitly picked up where their prompt play left off. Beginning in blackout, an arm with a lantern reached down from the ceiling of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, momentarily illuminating the auditorium. Then, in the renewed darkness that followed, an almighty crash, before Tom Stuart’s Edward – the actor and character …

Emilia (Shakespeare’s Globe) @ The Vaudeville Theatre

Emilia’s transfer to the West End, after a short but impactful run at Shakespeare’s Globe last summer, felt like a triumph even before the show opened. A new play on a seventeenth-century female poet, commissioned for only eleven performances at the Globe, doesn’t tick the obvious commercial boxes, but Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s text captured something …