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Hamlet (Schaubühne Berlin) @ Avignon Festival Theatre (webstream)

As theatres around the world shut their doors to physical customers, they’re opening their archives. The global lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 outbreak is hitting theatres hard, but it’s a gesture of goodwill and faith in the importance of theatre that institutions are making their content freely available, and it’s a gesture that I hope …

The Revenger’s Tragedy (Cheek by Jowl/Piccolo) @ The Barbican Theatre

In producing a play that turns repeatedly on deceitful appearances, both in the spectacles of power and in staged tricks played on the unsuspecting, Cheek by Jowl’s Revenger’s Tragedy turned theatre itself into the grand metaphor. At the production’s opening, with a stage manager in a headset watching, Fausto Cabra’s Vindice clicked his fingers to …

Macbeth (Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and Derby Theatre) @ Derby Theatre

It can seem like faint praise to focus on a production’s lighting, but Derby Theatre’s new Macbeth was truly extraordinarily well lit. Daniella Beattie’s simple designs created a world of shadow and fear, in combination with Ruari Murchison’s set. For much of the production, a deep stage heavily front-lit created an upstage area that was …

Women Beware Women (Shakespeare’s Globe) @ The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

For a play of dark corners, shadowy deeds and masque-like spectacle, the Sam Wanamaker is surely the perfect playhouse. In Amy Hodge’s debut production for the Globe, and in collaboration with designer Joanna Scotcher, the SWP was darkened further than usual, with black tiling on floor and tiring house wall, and covers over the lanterns, …

As You Like It (RSC) @ Theatre Royal, Nottingham

The Bardathon made his RSC stage debut last night, in the small but pivotal role of ‘Tree Covered In Post-It Notes’. Brought on after the interval of As You Like It, this hapless audience member’s role was to stand in a coat festooned with hundreds of stick-on lines of poetry, and chip in with the …

King John (RSC) @ The Swan Theatre

In a pointed and spectacular image towards the end of Eleanor Rhode’s production of King John, Cardinal Pandulph (Zara Ramm doing fantastic understudy work) sashayed across a stage filled with English and French soldiers wrestling and dying. King John (Rosie Sheehy) lay dead in an aluminium bathtub, bled out and soiled. As Pandulph reached centre-stage, …

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 …