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Romeo and Juliet (National Theatre) @ Sky Arts

A group of actors gather in a rehearsal room, chatting and laughing; we cut to them sat in chairs, making up three sides of a large square. It looks like meet-and-greet day, only there’s no director, no box set to show. Instead, it’s one of the actors, Lucian Msamati, who speaks, and he’s speaking the Prologue. …

Romeo & Juliet (Metcalfe Gordon Productions)

For almost a year, now, there have been few opportunities to see new productions of Shakespeare inside a theatre; fewer still where actors are able to touch, to interact. Metcalfe Gordon Productions’ new theatre-film hybrid production of Romeo and Juliet is an experiment in using technology to reproduce what has been lost, filming the actors (mostly) …

Ophelia (Covert Media) (DVD)

John Everett Millais’s ‘Ophelia’ is a defining pre-Raphaelite work, and a profound interpretive influence on Hamlet, on stage and on screen. It’s the starting point for Claire McCarthy’s film of the same name, as Daisy Ridley’s Ophelia spreads her arms and flowers in a lake and slowly sinks beneath the water. The painting renders Ophelia passive, a victim, a portrait of …

King of Texas (Hallmark) (DVD)

Among the many Western adaptations of King Lear, King of Texas is one of the straightest, acknowledging the debt in its opening credits, and casting Patrick Stewart as John Lear, head of one of the largest cattle ranches in the newly independent Republic of Texas And yet, while it mostly follows the plot points (and often the dialogue, appropriately …

The King (Netflix/Plan B) @ Netflix

The King clearly sees the potential, in a post-Game of Thrones world, for the story of the Henry IV/Henry V plays to become the basis for a gritty, f-bomb-dropping, twenty-first-century medievalist fantasy of heroism and difficult choices and violence. The material is right there in the corrupt older generation, the sneering enemies, the balance of personal stakes …

Coriolanus (Stratford Festival) @ Stratfest@Home (webcast)

There’s a near-perfect alignment between form and content in Barry Avrich’s film of Robert LePage’s Coriolanus, originally directed for the Stratford Festival, Ontario in 2018 and now broadcast live internationally via Stratfest@Home. Perhaps almost too perfect. LePage’s Coriolanus is fully committed to its formal conceit, even at the expense of rendering the production almost entirely …

All is True @ Broadway Cinema

All is True is the obvious culmination of Kenneth Branagh’s career – after thirty years of making Shakespeare films, he has finally cast himself as Shakespeare. From Branagh’s silicone-augmented performance to the Patrick Doyle score to the sun-bathed bucolic backdrops, All is True is a Branagh film through and through, for good and for ill. …

Twelfth Night (Shanty Productions)

Twelfth Night is Shanty Productions’ debut film, as well as the feature debut of director/adaptor Adam Smethurst. It’s quite a launch for an independent film company, with a truly excellent cast, fine use of the West Sussex countryside, and an effective publicity machine. And while the film betrays some awkwardness in its execution and some …

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 …