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The Knight of the Burning Pestle (Cheek by Jowl) @ The Barbican Theatre

The Knight of the Burning Pestle opened exactly as one might imagine a Cheek by Jowl production to open. To eerie music, a group of stone-faced actors emerged from behind a central white block on a bare stage, each bringing a chair with them. The chairs were arranged in deliberately unpatterned positions around the stage, …

The Taming of the Shew (RSC Live from Stratford-upon-Avon @ Broadway Cinema

I’ve already written at length about Justin Audibert’s The Taming of the Shrew at the RSC, and a second viewing of it – this time courtesy of free tickets to the live broadcast, with thanks to the RSC social media team – helped clarify much of what makes the production work, but gave me little further insight …

Richard II (Shakespeare’s Globe) @ The Sam Wanamaker Theatre

What is England? Seeing Richard II the day after yet another missed deadline for the UK’s departure from the EU, in a climate of mass uncertainty about the nature of sovereignty and the future of the country, unavoidably presented difficult questions about what is at stake, both in the play and now. The uneasy laughter …

The Taming of the Shrew (RSC) @ The Royal Shakespeare Theatre

The setting for the RSC’s 2019 The Taming of the Shrew, the latest in a long line of attempts to find a way of making the play palatable as a comedy for the twenty-first century, ventured into the realms of speculative fiction. Director Justin Audibert’s concept imagined an alternative sixteenth century in which women were …

After Edward (Shakespeare’s Globe) @ The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Rarely have response plays so explicitly picked up where their prompt play left off. Beginning in blackout, an arm with a lantern reached down from the ceiling of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, momentarily illuminating the auditorium. Then, in the renewed darkness that followed, an almighty crash, before Tom Stuart’s Edward – the actor and character …

Emilia (Shakespeare’s Globe) @ The Vaudeville Theatre

Emilia’s transfer to the West End, after a short but impactful run at Shakespeare’s Globe last summer, felt like a triumph even before the show opened. A new play on a seventeenth-century female poet, commissioned for only eleven performances at the Globe, doesn’t tick the obvious commercial boxes, but Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s text captured something …

Much Ado about Nothing (Northern Broadsides) @ Derby Theatre

Conrad Nelson’s swansong production for Northern Broadsides offered a paeon to rural England in its mise-en-scene. A huge cyclorama showed sprawling green fields; sheep baa-ed in the distance and birds tweeted. Lis Evans’s set located the production at the close of World War II, with ‘Dig for Victory!’ posters lining flats at the side of …

Edward II (Shakespeare’s Globe) @ The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Nick Bagnall’s new production of Edward II, reimagined for a candlelit indoor playhouse, collapsed its imagined spaces from the very opening. Gathering around the corpse of Edward I, the company (led by Richard Bremmer’s Archbishop of Canterbury) sang a Latin requiem and then crowned Edward II (Tom Stuart). Edward then began speaking his own summons …

Romeo and Juliet (RSC) @ Nottingham Theatre Royal

An entirely unexpected fight broke out at the RSC’s Romeo and Juliet last night, and it wasn’t on stage. As several audience members took action to remonstrate with and ultimately eject someone who was expressing their disapproval for the production’s choices, many other audience members found themselves missing the meeting of the lovers. And when …

Juliet & Romeo (Lost Dog) @ Nottingham Playhouse

What if Romeo and Juliet escaped the crypt together? Lost Dog’s dance production is not the first to explore this question, but perhaps offered one of the more innovative approaches to answering it. This two-person show (plus, at this performance at least, the outstanding BSL interpretation of Clare Edwards) invited its audience into the therapy …