Hamlet – May 2013 (2)

Experience: 6/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by David Farr

Venue: RST

Date: Friday 31st May 2013

It’s an interesting experience watching a production over several performances, especially in a long run. The ‘normal’ expectation is for growth: actors will develop their roles, the cast will work better together, and a deeper and broader view of the play will emerge through both the actors’ greater experience and the repeated viewings, which are often helped by a different angle. When we first saw this production during the previews, we were confident that the next performance we saw (ignoring the understudy run) would have come on considerably. Unfortunately, we were wrong. Jonathan Slinger still hasn’t got to grips with his role as the vacillating prince, and although there were some interesting changes to some of the staging, and some improvements in individual performances, it would seem that our enjoyment last time round was largely based on the surprise factor, which was understandably lacking tonight.

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Titus Andronicus – May 2013 (2)

Experience: 8/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Michael Fentiman

Venue: Swan Theatre

Date: Thursday 30th May 2013 (eve)

Another viewing of this production, and again the performances have all come on since opening night. The blood worked this time, and while the auditorium wasn’t packed, there were enough of us for a decent atmosphere to develop. Some of the details I noticed were new to me, but I can’t be certain they were changes in the performance, and as we sat in a similar place tonight (beside the right walkway) there was no significant change in perspective.

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As You Like It – May 2013

Experience: 8/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Maria Aberg

Venue: RST

Date: Wednesday 29th May 2013

We were sitting by the left walkway tonight, and although there was a pillar right in front of us, we managed to enjoy the performance as much as before as well as seeing some extra things we’d missed the last time. The performances had all come on, with the first half still being less fun and the second half being really good, and we stayed on for the post-show which added some useful information.

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Titus Andronicus – May 2013

Experience: 8/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Michael Fentiman

Venue: Swan Theatre

Date: Thursday 16th May 2013

Our experience of Titus Andronicus is limited: the Deborah Warner production in 1988 with Brian Cox – excellent – the 2003 RSC production with David Bradley – good but wordy – and the Complete Works Ninagawa production in 2006 – spectacular but not to my taste. Despite this relatively brief acquaintance with the play, we were looking forward to an evening of gore and misery and we weren’t disappointed. Being the first performance there were naturally a few hiccups, but even so the production already feels like a major success, and we can only hope that the faint-ometer doesn’t break through overuse.

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Hamlet – May 2013 (1)

Experience: 7/10

Public Understudies Performance

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Tinuke Craig

Venue: RST

Date: Thursday 16th May 2013

These understudy runs can be really good fun and very interesting; seeing how an actor manages to find their own performance within an established production can be enlightening, so we were keen to see how the understudies would handle their roles in this unusual, design driven production. Apart from Greg Hicks playing the roles of Claudius and the ghost – John Stahl was unavailable – everyone else was playing a different part while most of the other leads – Jonathan Slinger, Pippa Dixon, Alex Waldmann and Robin Soans – were occasionally on stage as extras. Jonathan Slinger took the part of Gonzago in the initial mime sequence.

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The Tempest – May 2013

Experience: 9/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Jeremy Herrin

Venue: Shakespeare’s Globe

Date: Sunday 12th May 2013

An early start on a Sunday, a missed breakfast, no sign of a Sunday lunch(!), a poor selection of food at our destination and weather that started off mild and sunny but got colder and wetter; it just shows you how a tremendously good production can make us forget our worries and cares. We left the Globe with eyes sparkling (and not a little moist) after one of the best Tempests I’ve ever seen. The performances were all excellent and there were some interesting and novel staging choices which I hope I can remember long enough to note them up.

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A Warning To The Curious – May 2013

Experience: 7/10

By M R James

Performed by Robert Lloyd Parry

Venue: Mill Studio

Date: Thursday 9th May 2013

A companion piece to A Pleasing Terror, this evening’s stories performed by Robert Lloyd Parry were Lost Hearts and A Warning To The Curious, one of M R James’ best known stories; it’s certainly been done on TV at least once to my knowledge, and a very scary story it is too.

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Four Farces – May 2013

Experience: 6/10

By – see below

Directed by Jonathan Kemp

Company: European Arts Company

Venue: Connaught Theatre

Date: Wednesday 8th May 2013

This was a good collection of one-act farces by Victorian writers. We’d seen one of them before – A Most Unwarrantable Intrusion – and being a Gilbert and Sullivan fan I was very keen to see Box And Cox, the basis for Sullivan and FC Burnand’s light opera Cox And Box. The cast was limited to three actors – Richard Latham, John O’Connor and Asta Parry – so the farces had been selected with that limitation in mind, and it was good fun to see the actors take a variety of roles throughout the evening.

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The Breadwinner – May 2013

Experience: 7/10

By Somerset Maugham

Directed by Auriol Smith

Venue: Orange Tree Theatre

Date: Tuesday 7th May 2013

Another little gem from the Orange Tree, this time with a husband and father, the breadwinner of the title, turning the tables on his spoilt wife and pampered children. Set in 1930, the play deals with the social and economic after-effects of the First World War in a light-hearted way, with the characters making some valid points as well as showing us some less pleasant aspects of human behaviour.

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