Tales from Shakespeare

Remodelling and reworking Shakespeare is an inevitable part of theatre productions; it will be interesting to see what comes of this Random House project.

The Argumentative Old Git

Using existing works as a starting point to create new ones is hardly new. The new work created could be great works in their own right, or they could be mediocre, or they could be poor. It doesn’t matter, as the original works, which are themselves often re-workings of then existing materials, are hardly likely to be replaced.  So when Random House announced recently that they will be commissioning various writers to produce retellings, reworkings, updatings, cover versions (they seemingly couldn’t make up their mind which term to use) of every play in the Shakespeare canon, I couldn’t really see much to get too excited about. Whether this project can create anything even remotely of the stature of Verdi’s Otelloor Kurasawa’s Ran remains to be seen, but let’s not pre-judge: even if it doesn’t climb to such heights, there may well be a few worthwhile books coming out of…

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Othello – June 2013

Experience: 10/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Nicholas Hytner

Venue: Olivier Theatre

Date: Sunday 16th June 2013

This was a fantastic performance. The modern setting enriched the detailed characterisations while the set gave us the necessary locations without being too elaborate. We had one understudy on stage today: Robert Demeger was indisposed so Jonathan Dryden Taylor took his place as the Duke.

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Go Back For Murder – June 2013

Experience: 7/10

By Agatha Christie

Directed by Joe Harmston

Agatha Christie Theatre Company

Venue: Connaught Theatre

Date: Friday 14th June 2013

No programs? What do you mean, no programs? We had to be content with a photocopied cast list and actors’ CVs – no details of the creative team, background info, nor any interesting and entertaining articles. I had to get the essential details from the flyer – good job Steve has a penchant for collecting such things.

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A Mad World My Masters – June 2013

Experience: 9/10

By Thomas Middleton, edited by Sean Foley and Phil Porter

Directed by Sean Foley

Venue: Swan Theatre

Date: Wednesday 12th June 2013

This was absolutely fabulous. I didn’t hear all the dialogue and missed a few bits of the action, but by the end of the evening my hands were sore with clapping and we left the theatre with happy hearts. One to see again (and again).

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Miss Nightingale – June 2013

Experience: 7/10

By Matthew Bugg

Directed by Peter Rowe

Venue: Connaught Theatre

Date: Thursday 6th June 2013

This was an enjoyable musical burlesque, a bit like Funny Girl does Cabaret in WWII London. A young woman, Maggie Brown, was trying to make it as a singer while working during the day. Her composer friend George was a Jew who fled Germany before the Nazis made it impossible to get out. He was also gay and earning a bit on the side as a rent boy. One close encounter with a posh chap turned into a close encounter with a policeman, as George allowed himself to be caught to save the other man’s reputation. This good deed was returned later, when the posh chap, Sir Frank Worthington-Blythe, turned out to be the owner of a new nightclub who was looking for talent to entertain his discerning clientele. Maggie and George were a perfect fit, and once Frank got over his concern that George was trying to blackmail him, the three of them developed a mutually beneficial relationship.

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Seven Year Twitch – June 2013

Experience: 8/10

Written and directed by David Lewis

Venue: Orange Tree Theatre

Date: Tuesday 4th June 2013

This is a new play, written and directed by David Lewis, and the blend of personal issues, therapy sessions and twitching created a very funny production. The story was told initially through these therapy sessions, with parts of the earlier action acted out in front of us and the relevant therapist. Later, as the relationships became more jumbled, the action flowed from one confrontation to another with frequent changes of location.

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