// Archives

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, …

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 …

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 …

Measure for Measure (RSC/Live from Stratford-upon-Avon) @ The Broadway, Nottingham

Gregory Doran’s new Measure for Measure seemed, at times, to be almost defiantly setting itself against ‘relevance’. Eschewing the contemporary settings of several recent productions that have more explicitly responded to the #MeToo moment and the abuses of power in the highest offices (whether political, entertainment, sports), Doran returned to the text’s setting of Vienna, but updated …

Pericles (Willow Globe) @ Oystermouth Castle

The Willow Globe in Powys, Wales, celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2019, and the coincidence of the British Shakespeare Association holding its first conference in Wales led to a special performance of the company’s Pericles in the grounds of Oystermouth Castle. A more beautiful setting for an outdoor production of Pericles is hard to imagine; the …

Pembroke Arcadia (Fluellen Theatre) @ Taliesin Arts Centre

Romance has had something of a resurgence in recent years on the UK stage, with high-profile productions of Pericles and Cymbeline joining the more regularly staged Winter’s Tale and Tempest, and scattered productions of both Tudor and Jacobean/Caroline romances by Lyly, Greene, Fletcher and others have found welcoming audiences. To adapt one of the period’s …