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The Tempest (Donmar/Illuminations) @ BBC iPlayer

In the final entry in Phyllida Lloyd’s Donmar Shakespeare Trilogy, it is Harriet Walter’s turn to take the stand for a testimony at the start of the performance. The oldest prisoner at 66, ‘Hannah’ was the getaway driver for a politically motivated bank robbery which ended with two police officers dead. Refusing to recognise the …

King Lear @ The BBC

Richard Eyre is quite well-represented in the category of made-for-TV films of King Lear; he directed the screen version of his own National Theatre production back in 1998 and now, twenty years later and with a more substantial budget, he directs a rare one-off television film. That budget doesn’t particularly register in the cramped sets, …

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 …

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, …

The Hollow Crown: Henry V @ BBC2

Writing about web page http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00s91rf It remains to Thea Sharrock to steer the BBC’s Hollow Crown series to a dignified and lavish conclusion with Henry V, which brings Tom Hiddleston’s young king to worldly maturity and sees the return of most of the actors whose parts have transcended individual films (although not York/Aumerle nor, curiously, …

The Hollow Crown: 2 Henry IV @ BBC2

Writing about web page http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00s91qj Part Three of the BBC’s Hollow Crown series, again directed by Richard Eyre, concludes the Henry IV plays. Once again it is a lavish, visually rich, sensitively acted interpretation, with a great deal to recommend it. But where 1 Henry IV was full of life, variety, powerhouse acting and intelligent …

The Hollow Crown: 1 Henry IV @ BBC

Writing about web page http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00s91pm The second episode in the BBC’s Hollow Crown series offers a stand-alone, prudently cut version of Henry IV Part 1, and immediately it is clear that the central plays of the second tetralogy are in good hands with Richard Eyre. One of my complaints in my review of Rupert Goold’s …

The Hollow Crown: Richard II @ BBC HD

Writing about web page http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00s90j1 The most exciting element of the BBC’s Shakespeare Unlocked is off to a storming start. Rupert Goold’s film of Richard II, divorced of the gimmickry and attention deficit lack of focus that characterises his stage work (sometimes to wonderful effect, sometimes disastrously) is a slick, subtle, well acted and creative …

Radio Shakespeare: Twelfth Night (BBC Drama on 3)

Writing about web page http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01g4vv1 I listened last night to the BBC’s new radio production of Twelfth Night, starring David Tennant, Ron Cook, Naomi Frederick and a host of other fantastic actors. I’m not going to offer a review, as I can’t claim to particularly like or enjoy radio drama. It did, however, force me …