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Measure for Measure @ The Donmar Warehouse

NB: this piece is based on a preview performance. When Josie Rourke announced that she would be staging a radical revisioning of Measure for Measure that would involve the actors playing Angelo and Isabella switching roles halfway through, there was no way she could have known the context in which the first previews would be …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Henry IV (Donmar/Illuminations) @ BBC iPlayer

Following the release of Julius Caesar in cinemas last year, Phyllida Lloyd’s ‘Donmar Trilogy’ is finally available on BBC iPlayer, giving me the chance to belatedly catch up with Henry IV and The Tempest. The films, with live camera direction by Rhodri Huw, offer an extraordinary document of an extraordinary theatrical event, and one can …

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), …