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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 …

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 …

Twelfth Night (RSC) @ The Royal Shakespeare Theatre

The RSC’s Christmas show, Twelfth Night, saw the creative team behind the popular Love’s Labour’s Lost/Won double bill (director Christopher Luscombe, designer Simon Higlett, composer Nigel Hess, movement director Jenny Arnold) reunite for a production that had all of the flaws and few of the redeeming features of the earlier productions. Twelfth Night had its …

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 …

The Two Noble Kinsmen (RSC) @ The Swan Theatre

Just over a decade since I saw the RSC’s Canterbury Tales company offer a fascinating script-in-hand staging of The Two Noble Kinsmen, it was a pleasure to return to the Swan at last for a full-scale professional production, especially in the hands of Blanche McIntyre, fresh from a superb Noises Off at Nottingham Playhouse. While …

The Tempest (RSC/Live from Stratford) @ The Broadway, Nottingham

Much has been made about the technical innovations of the RSC’s current production of The Tempest. Taking the (somewhat tenuous) premise that the play was designed as Shakespeare’s greatest experiment with the cutting-edge technologies of his own time, the RSC has partnered with Intel and Andy Serkis’s Imaginarium studio to create a series of avatars …

Hamlet (RSC) @ The Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Seeing the same ensemble of actors take on Hamlet two days after Cymbeline, I was struck by the demands placed on a company performing these two long plays together – the mercifully shorter Hamlet still ran to an energetic three hours and fifteen minutes. And this is one of the consistently strongest ensembles I remember …

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 Alchemist (RSC) @ The Swan Theatre

The RSC’s contribution to the 400th anniversary of Ben Jonson’s 1616 Folio is a Swan production of The Alchemist, occupying the slot that Volpone took last summer. The RSC invested a large, game cast, one of the biggest bands I’ve seen in the Swan for some time, and a production budget that stretched to a …

Doctor Faustus (RSC) @ The Swan Theatre

Watching Maria Aberg’s production of Doctor Faustus in the Swan, I found it hard not to think of A-level drama projects. This isn’t just because I’m speaking at a sixth-form study day at the RSC next month tying in with this production, but because of the deliberately DIY aesthetic of the production, with its gaudy …