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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 …

Timon of Athens (RSC) @ The Swan Theatre

It’s impossible to get away from Simon Godwin at the moment. His RSC Hamlet has only just finished touring; his Antony and Cleopatra at the National has been winning awards, and he’s just about to take up the artistic directorship of the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington DC, as well as directing a production in …

Tamburlaine (RSC) @ The Swan Theatre

Oh, how I’ve missed Michael Boyd. While there’s much I admire about Gregory Doran’s work, the RSC’s output has been at best variable for the last few years, often seeming to be in competition with the thrust stage and falling too often into dully conservative furrows. Boyd’s tenure as Artistic Director was far from perfect, …

Troilus and Cressida (RSC/Live from Stratford) @ Broadway Cinema

As a regular at Nottingham Broadway’s screenings of the Live from Stratford-upon-Avon broadcasts, it was dispiriting to see an audience barely a third of the usual size at the broadcast of the rarely-staged Troilus and Cressida; doubly so when this was one of the RSC’s most pleasingly innovative productions for some time. Following the Globe’s …

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 …

The Duchess of Malfi (RSC) @ The Swan Theatre

I do hate Stratford-upon-Avon. Not only is it a six-hour round train journey from the East Midlands, but a single trespassing incident resulted in two cancellations and, most selfishly, me missing the first half hour of Maria Aberg’s spectacular (and spectacularly bloody) Duchess of Malfi. I am reliably informed by authorities (read: Twitter) that the …

Macbeth (RSC Live from Stratford) @ Nottingham Broadway

At the moment of Duncan’s death, a timer set at two hours appeared on the upstage wall, and began counting down. Polly Findlay’s Macbeth – and Christopher Ecclestone’s titular monarch – shifted from that point into an inevitable decline, the ever-present clock reminding Macbeth of the inevitable consequences of his fatal action. And with two …

Twelfth Night (RSC) @ The Royal Shakespeare Theatre

The RSC’s Christmas show, Twelfth Night, saw the creative team behind the popular Love’s Labour’s Lost/Won double bill (director Christopher Luscombe, designer Simon Higlett, composer Nigel Hess, movement director Jenny Arnold) reunite for a production that had all of the flaws and few of the redeeming features of the earlier productions. Twelfth Night had its …

Coriolanus (RSC/Live from Stratford) @ The Royal Shakespeare Theatre/Nottingham Broadway

Much was made in the pre-show paratexts for the RSC’s live broadcast of Coriolanus of the play’s contemporaneity, and at the same time the general nature of that contemporaneity. Coriolanus, as Haydn Gwynne suggested, is a play that always feels contemporary. In fact, this was one of the least specifically resonant Coriolani(?) I’ve seen for …

The Two Noble Kinsmen (RSC) @ The Swan Theatre

Just over a decade since I saw the RSC’s Canterbury Tales company offer a fascinating script-in-hand staging of The Two Noble Kinsmen, it was a pleasure to return to the Swan at last for a full-scale professional production, especially in the hands of Blanche McIntyre, fresh from a superb Noises Off at Nottingham Playhouse. While …