“a …piece of work; which … to have been blest withal would have discredited your travel.”

Who: Royal Shakespeare Company

What: Antony and Cleopatra

Where: Royal Shakespeare Theatre

When: 23rd March 2017

This is the first of four reviews that I will deliver over the coming months on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) Rome season. We begin with Antony and Cleopatra and then head through Julius Caesar, Titus Andronicus and Coriolanus. The comfort of this is that it gives the RSC three attempts to improve upon this woeful Antony and Cleopatra.

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A Strange Fish!

Holy Gonzalo (Act V Scene 1), Batman! The RSC may have a hit on their hands.

What: The Tempest by William Shakespeare

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

Who: The Royal Shakespeare Company

When: 24th November 2016

This production of the Tempest attempts to break new boundaries in theatre-making with the very first use of “live motion capture” in a major stage production … and it succeeds… just…

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“Nobility enforce a freedom out of Bondage, making misery their Mirth”

What: The Two Noble Kinsmen by John Fletcher and William Shakespeare

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

Who: The Royal Shakespeare Company

When: October 2016

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) performances are oh-so-relevant. Or at least they think they are.

But are they trying a little too hard?

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“Having been praised for bluntness, (he) doth affect a saucy roughness”

What: King Lear by William Shakespeare

Who: Royal Shakespeare Company

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

In the recent Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) presentation of Hamlet, a classroom scene is created at the beginning at which the title of the play is spoken to announce young Hamlet’s graduation and then the scene is cleared and the play proper begins. I think it was meant to be clever but really it served no purpose. At the beginning of this performance of Lear a group of maybe 10 actors take the stage shrouded in something like lepers’ attire or flimsy beggar garb as shelter against the cold night. When the actors enter for the first scene proper they leave hastily too – shooed away. But this time the importance of this scene is not lost on the rest of the production. Rather, it adds. And like most everything here, it is solid and meaningful.

Solid.

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A Cracker for Christmas

What: A Christmas Cracker

Who: Riding Lights Theatre Company

Where: Ravenscourt Arts, Hammersmith, London

When: December 9 & 10th 2015

This was the second annual Christmas play / pantomime at the Ravenscourt Arts theatre in Hammersmith and saw the theatre once again join forces with the Riding Lights Theatre Company from York to bring joy to the lives of an audience who were mostly between the ages of 4 and 11 with a smattering of teachers and parents.

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Cracker the Dog

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Ascend the Bright Heaven of Invention

What: Henry V by William Shakespeare

Who: The Royal Shakespeare Company

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

When: October 1st, 2015

Sometimes the Royal Shakespeare Company’s “devices” to make a particular production innovative and relevant to the modern audience don’t work. I’m amongst their sharpest critics when they don’t. Occasionally they do. Now whilst audiences members that I spoke to after the performance and during the interval were divided, I have to say I fall into the positive camp when it comes to this most recent production of Henry the Fifth.

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(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.

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