…Doth Indeed Show some Sparks of Wit…

What: Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Where: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Who: The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)

When: Viewed week of 14th February to 18th of February (runs until 12th March 2022)

Attempts to evoke some sparks of negativity around the principles of the RSC’s productions do become a little tired. The artistic director of this production spoke of a “racist backlash” to the casting of this play. I cannot speak to this directly but having spoken to various audience members, over the days that I attended the show, nobody seemed to be particularly concerned about the casting although some did have other axes to grind.

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O cunning enemy, that, to catch a saint, With saints dost bait thy hook!

What: Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare

Where: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK

Who: The Royal Shakespeare Company

When: July 2019

“The poetic atmosphere is one of religion and critical morality. The religious colouring is orthodox, as in Hamlet.”[1]

“There have, however, been others, notably in the last century, such unlikely yoke-fellows as Gervinus in Germany and Walter Pater in England who have seen the play neither as expressive of cynicism and disgust nor as filled with the spirit of the Gospels and yet believe it to be no ‘meaningless’ entertainment but serious and coherent exploration of certain moral issues. It is in support of this view that the following pages are written”.[2]

I have two touchstones, benchmarks if you will, when it comes to Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” and the above quotations are examples of their understanding of the play and the differences between those understandings. Gregory Doran’s production of the play in Stratford-Upon-Avon may have become a third.

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