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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We stand much hazard, if they bring not Timon.

What: Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare

Where: The Swan Theatre @ The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Waterside, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Who: The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)

When: 13th December 2018

It has been a strange year for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). It just got stranger. Their take on – should I say adaptation of Timon of Athens – is an unusual one. And that is to say something quite remarkable because this play is seldom performed.

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Well, I say Troilus is Troilus,… this is… Cressida, this is not Cressida

What: Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare

Where: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford Upon Avon, England

Who: The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)

When: 18th October 2018

As always, in recent years, I have titled my assessment of an RSC production with a quote or two from the play itself, but I must admit, even to myself, that this title is a little hard to understand and consequently it won’t help you to get to the heart of what I’m trying to say in this review unless I break it down a little.

To explain I must digress a little…

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Wives may be merry and yet honest too

What: The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare

Who: The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)

Where: The Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST), Stratford-Upon-Avon, England

When: 14th August 2018

This new production of Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor is quite perplexing in places but I found it a whole lot more enjoyable than their current Romeo and Juliet. And I think audiences in general will concur.

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Turn back, dull earth, and find thy centre out

What: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Where: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Who: Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)

When: June 2018

A mid-season visit to the RSC’s latest interesting adaptation of a Shakespeare classic.

Relevance!

Relevance!

Relevance!

This is the catch word that almost every RSC production screams at you as soon as you enter their building in its quaint setting along the River Avon.

What does Shakespeare have to say to today’s world and its issues?

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It Won’t Be Gone When the Morning Comes

What: Bat Out of Hell – The Musical

Who: Jim Steinman et al

Where: Dominion Theatre, Tottenham Court Road

When: May 2018

The Bat out of Hell phenomenon dates back to the release of the Meat Loaf album of the same name in 1977. Bat out of Hell – The musical opened in Manchester, England in February of 2017 before transferring to London in June of the same year where it was housed at the Coliseum in the West End. In October 2017 it transferred to Toronto, Canada before returning to London, England and its new venue at the Dominion in April of this year.

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Sensible to Feeling as to Sight

What: Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Who: Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)

Where: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

When: 20th March 2018

When a familiar play opens and you see characters normally associated with adults being played by pre-teen girls, it is difficult to stifle an inward groan. But, in actuality, this production of Macbeth is very strong indeed and is one which you should hunt for tickets for. It really does have an awful lot to commend it. This is a taut, energetic production with some exceptional acting.

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