The Duchess Of Malfi – March 2018

Preview performance

Experience: 4/10

By John Webster

Directed by Maria Aberg

Venue: Swan Theatre

Date: Wednesday 7th March 2018

We appreciated the first half of this show much more than the second: but for some design choices, which to us seemed unfortunate, this would have been a feather in Maria Aberg’s cap. As it is, tickets may be returned, and I certainly won’t be recommending this production to any of our friends. My main problem was the excessive amount of blood: although there are a lot of murders in this play, they aren’t all bloody, and the amount of artificial red stuff on show was simply unnecessary, especially for someone as squeamish as myself. Remove the carcass (more on that later), remove the blood, and I’d be more than happy to see this again.

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Doctor Faustus – March 2016

Experience: 3/10

By Christopher Marlowe

Directed by Maria Aberg

Venue: Swan Theatre

Date: Wednesday 30th March 2106

Maria Aberg is fast heading for “Danger, Will Robinson” status, given to those directors whose work we avoid so as not to waste any of our precious remaining minutes on this planet. This production moved her a good few notches closer – only memories of her As You Like It stand between her and oblivion. (I doubt this will trouble her in the least.) Tonight’s offering was dire in every way except the performances by the lead actors – we have huge respect for the work they do, and given the unfortunate nature of the production they did as well as could be expected. Even so, I avoided adding to the applause at the end, and Steve’s contribution was polite but unenthusiastic.

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Volpone – July 2015

Experience: 8/10

By Ben Jonson, with script revisions by Ranjit Bolt

Directed by Trevor Nunn

Venue: Swan Theatre

Date: Thursday 23rd July 2015

This fantastic production was a joy to watch. There was so much going on that I couldn’t take it all in first time around, so I’m already looking forward to our next viewing which will be tomorrow’s understudy run. The performances were all excellent, and apart from a couple of the accents being a little harder to tune into than the others, the dialogue was crystal clear, including some modern additions.

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The Witch Of Edmonton – October 2014

Experience: 7/10

By William Rowley, Thomas Dekker, John Ford, and possibly others.

Edited and directed by Gregory Doran

Venue: Swan Theatre

Date: Tuesday 28th October 2014

We missed the RSC’s previous Witch as we weren’t coming regularly to Stratford at the time, so this production was one we were very keen to see. This final part of the Roaring Girls season – Greg was accepted as an honorary ‘Roaring Girl’ by the other (female) directors – was the only one to be done in Jacobean dress, which made a pleasant change from the persistent updating in the other three productions. Modern dress or similar is fine, but we agreed with Greg’s point in the pre-show talk about the risk of not allowing the audience to make their own connections to present-day circumstances, something clearly not considered often enough by many directors today.

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The Roaring Girl – May 2014

Experience: 7/10

By Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton

Directed by Jo Davies

Venue: Swan Theatre

Date: Tuesday 27th May 2014

It’s over thirty years since we saw the previous RSC production of this play, and for all that it starred Helen Mirren in the title role, I can’t remember a thing about it. Those were early days in my Jacobethan immersion, so the unfamiliar language, odd characters and many and varied plot twists would have been harder to follow. Now that I’m much more conversant with the genre, I hoped I would find the plot easier to grasp, and it was indeed a much more rewarding experience. The language still caught me out a bit, mind you, so I’ll be keen to read the text before we see it again, but the production itself was very good fun, and it was lovely to see a number of the usual suspects back again for another season.

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A Mad World My Masters – September 2013

Experience: 8/10

By Thomas Middleton, edited by Sean Foley and Phil Porter

Directed by Sean Foley

Venue: Swan Theatre

Date: Monday 16th September 2013

I was very glad we could fit this production in one more time before the run ends. There was no surprise value of course, and we both felt that tonight’s audience took a while to warm up, but it was still a great deal of fun. We had the added pleasure of seeing an understudy tonight as well – Jonny Weldon took the part of Oboe, and did a good job in the role.

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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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