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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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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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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