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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 …

Kings of War (Toneelgroep Amsterdam) @ The Barbican Theatre

In 2009 I was lucky enough to see Toneelgroep Amsterdam perform Ivo van Hove’s Roman Tragedies at the Barbican. That mammoth reworking of Coriolanus, Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra remains one of my lifetime theatrical highlights – not just for its length and ambition, but for its cohesive use of space, its innovative flexibility …

Shakespeare’s Joan of Arc (Henry VI, Part 1) (American Shakespeare Center) @ the Blackfriars, Staunton VA

NB this review is of a preview performance, and does not reflect the play as of press night The resident company at the Blackfriars works exceptionally hard. Twelve actors are currently performing four Shakespeare plays in repertory six days of the week; not only that, but the whole company perform for fifteen minutes before the …

An Age of Kings (BBC/Illuminations)

In 1960, the BBC undertook an extraordinary project. Shakespeare’s eight history plays covering the reigns of Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, Edward IV, Edward V and Richard III were broadcast in fifteen hour-long episodes with a single ensemble company. Rehearsed quickly and recorded live, the films have been unavailable commercially until now, …

Harry the Sixth (Shakespeare’s Globe) @ York Theatre Royal

The Globe’s touring adaptation of the first of the Henry VI plays announced its ambition from the first, with an enormous covered throne standing central on the Theatre Royal stage, flanked by two scaffold towers. The bare, skeletal structures were surrounded by galleries boasting armour, tabards, drums and weapons, evocative of a museum gallery. This …

Henry VI Part One @ The Rose Theatre, Bankside

The Rose on Bankside has been continuing its ongoing series of productions based on the original repertory of Henslowe’s theatre. This month sees a particularly special event: an in-house production (as opposed to the usual hosting of young companies) of 1 Henry VI, unusually presented in isolation from the rest of the trilogy. Further, the …

Henry VI Part 1 (RSC) @ The Courtyard Theatre: Highlights

Arrived back in Leamington Spa at 12.30am after Henry V, stayed at a friend’s house (got a few hours sleep) before running for the 9am train to get back to the Courtyard for 10.30am. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, I wasn’t feeling my freshest. I mention this because the Henry VI trilogy are so amazing that they jerked …

Henry VI Part 1 (RSC) @ The Courtyard Theatre

Last night’s trip was a jolly really- a third viewing of the first part of Michael Boyd’s ‘Henry VI’ trilogy, just for fun! I’d really wanted to see all three ‘Henries’ and ‘Richard III’ in sequence, but timing hasn’t allowed, and I’m sure I’ll get the chance in 2008 when the company play eight history …

Henry VI Trilogy (RSC) @ The Courtyard Theatre

Wow! Yesterday was another big ‘event’ day- the entire Henry VI trilogy in one day, starting at 10.30 in the monring and finishing just after 11 at night. And it was spectacular. I’m seeing the plays again, so I’ll save the detailed comment til then- here I just want to say a bit about the …