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The Duchess of Malfi @ The Almeida Theatre

Appropriate to a time when the scrutiny of celebrities – and, indeed, Dukes and Duchesses – is front page news, Rebecca Frecknall’s production of The Duchess of Malfi put its ruling figures literally into a box. Chloe Lamford’s set comprised a hexagonal stage, on top of which stood an enormous illuminated box fronted with full-length …

Teenage Dick @ The Donmar Warehouse

The best high-school Shakespeare adaptations don’t simply look for one-on-one equivalences in their new milieu for the Shakespearean text, but engage deeply with the concerns, clichés, and stakes of their environment. To translate wars and intrigues to basketball courts or class president elections does not require matters to be trivialised simply because they are no …

Christmas at the (Snow)Globe @ Shakespeare’s Globe

Is it a Christmas show or a Shakespeare show? At the heart of Sandi Toksvig and Jennifer Toksvig’s joyful festive residency at the Globe lay an irreverent contestation over the space, whether reserved for ‘serious acting’ or opened up for community celebration. As a site-specific and original holiday entertainment, it spoke to the unique power …

Richard III (Shakespeare’s Globe) @ The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

It may now have been a new play, with a new king (Sarah Amankwah’s Edward IV) and his courtiers standing for a family portrait, but the stage of Richard III bore all the scars of the Wars of the Roses. Edward and his wife Elizabeth (Nina Bowers) stood centrally in the family group, atop the …

Henry VI (Shakespeare’s Globe) @ The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

NB: This review is based on a preview performance. Henry VI, the fifth entry in the Globe’s 2019 Histories Cycle, was a production of compromises, if not a compromised production. Reuniting the ensemble that performed 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV and Henry V over the summer (with a couple of replacement members), the decision …

Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet (New Adventures) @ Sadler’s Wells/Nottingham Broadway

Illuminations’ new film of Matthew Bourne’s reimagining of Romeo and Juliet is a thrilling addition to the canon of dance adaptations of the play. Taking the classic Sergei Prokofiev score, but setting the ballet in a near-future ‘Verona Institute’ for the incarceration of young people, Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet is a raw and moving piece that fascinatingly …

Macbeth @ Manchester Royal Exchange

For about half an hour before the Royal Exchange’s Macbeth started, the atrium of the Royal Exchange was rocked by rumbles and explosions, which became increasingly unsettling as the start time drew near. Christopher Haydon’s production – especially in Elena Peña’s sound design – sought to set up a world rent asunder by war long …

A Midsummer Night’s Dream @ The Bridge Theatre

‘Not for my fairy kingdom’ roared Oliver Chris’s Oberon during his big fight with Gwendoline Christie’s Titania, early in the Bridge Theatre’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. The subtle textual change was part of an extensive series of adjustments designed to allow Oberon to remain King of the Forest while putting him on the receiving end of the love potion trick, in a …

Bartholomew Fair (Shakespeare’s Globe) @ The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Please note – this review is of a preview performance. The sprawling Bartholomew Fair is an enormous play, a cast of seemingly thousands jostling shoulders in one of London’s most notorious fairs. Hosting it in the relatively bijou Sam Wanamaker was a bold choice, but Blanche McIntyre (with designer Ti Green) transformed it to maximise …

Venice Preserved (RSC) @ The Swan Theatre

Thomas Otway’s 1682 tragedy, part of a mini-season of Restoration plays in the Swan, is a depressing affair. Despite the large scale of its political plot, as a group of conspirators led by an ambassador band together to overthrow the Venetian state, its focus is on a three-way relationship between a man, his secret wife, …