(It) may not fare a whit the worse, for the false pace of the verse.

What: Volpone or the Fox

Who: Ben Jonson

Where: The Swan Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

When: July 16th, 2015

If I was going to see the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) at either The Royal Shakespeare Theatre or The Swan Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon or any of their increasingly frequent transfers to London, New York and the world at large, I would always buy a programme.

They are only £4 and reading between the lines, you will find an awful lot about the RSC’s goals in their production of the play at hand. You will then, in turn, get a feel for how their production will differ from the one you were hoping for (for some infamous examples, see my reviews of the 2011 production of The Merchant of Venice https://twilightdawning.com/2011/05/28/all-at-sea/ and the following year’s Troilus and Cressida https://twilightdawning.com/2012/08/13/remixed-shakespeare-for-the-hip-hop-generation/ amongst others). You will also find that sometimes the play production that they are presenting falls short of its own goals.

Continue reading

I Understand A Fury In Your Words. But Not The Words.

What: Othello by William Shakespeare

Where: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

When: 11th June 2015

“We’ve tried to make it less ridiculous, so we’ve cut some lines… which leaves us open to the accusation that by doing so we have made it less sublime – we’ve cut some of the music of Othello”.

– Hugh Quashie (Othello) in conversation with the Stratford-Upon-Avon Herald.

It is indeed interesting when the principal actor in a Shakespeare production describes the plotline of one of the Bard’s plays as being ridiculous – so ridiculous that it is worth spoiling the rhythm and rhyme of the play to correct. One might even consider this a kind of arrogance.

Continue reading

It wearies me; you say it wearies you

What: The Merchant of Venice

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

When: 21st May 2015

A writer in the UK newspaper “The Telegraph” pointed out how far short of the production at the Globe in London, the current RSC version of “The Merchant of Venice” falls. It is indeed unusual for two parallel productions to be running like this. It is, if you will, a surfeit of Merchants.

I cover only the RSC’s productions so I do not have the benefit or disadvantage of comparison. I, therefore, can only point out how the RSC’s production fails on its own merits. The audience were enthusiastic. The cast were spirited but bad directorial and staging decisions doomed it from the start.

Continue reading

Shakespeare Reviews

We now have 7 years of Shakespeare reviews on this site – so many it can be hard to find what you’re looking for. I’ve done this handy guide to them all so you can follow the links below to any RSC production over the period. Where there has been more than one production of a particular play, they are listed separately and the date given. I’ll try to keep it updated annually.

Continue reading