As You Like It – February 2019

Experience: 7/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Kimberley Sykes

Venue: RST

Date: Thursday 28th February 2019

A good start to the new season. I have been concerned about some of the recent RSC ensembles, but this appears to be a strong group, with the diversity angle not weakening the acting talent at all and adding some interesting aspects to the performance. I’m looking forward to seeing how this ensemble develops over several productions.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream – February 2019

Experience: 8/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Mike Tweddle

Venue: Tobacco Factory

Date: Wednesday 27th February 2019

One advantage of having to wait outside the theatre for our ride back to the hotel was that it gave us a chance to speak to a couple of the actors – Danaan McAleer and Evlyne Oyedokun – to congratulate them and thank them for such an imaginative and inspiring production. I was especially pleased because the audience numbers tonight were on the low side. This innovative, cross-gender casting version of the play deserves full houses every night, and we’re happy to have already booked for another helping of the fun.

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Richard II – January 2019

Experience: 8/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins

Venue: Almeida Theatre

Date: Tuesday 8th January 2019

“I have been studying how I may compare this prison where I live unto the world”: not the usual start to Richard II, but when Simon Russell Beale came to the front of the box-like stage, clad in dark leggings and a black top, to deliver this line, I grasped instantly that this production was set entirely within the deposed king’s mind. All the other ‘characters’ were simply his perception of those people, and he was spending his time going over and over the events that led up to his deposition, as if trying to figure out where it all went wrong. Or perhaps nurturing his grudges in case he ever got the chance at revenge. Whatever his motivation, this was an excellent way to allow Simon to play a part which, in a ‘traditional’ production, he would be too old for, and allow the rest of us to rejoice in hearing these lines spoken so brilliantly by one of our finest actors, whether of Shakespeare or anything else.

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Macbeth – June 2018

Experience: 7/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Polly Findlay

Venue: RST

Date: Wednesday 27th June 2018

Due to Edward Bennett being unavailable for tonight’s performance, the RSC’s understudies program swung into action at the last minute, providing an able substitute for the part of MacDuff in John Macaulay (usually murderer, chamberlain, member of Scottish forces). Others were bumped up to fill the gaps, and although we were aware he was an understudy, I don’t feel the performance suffered too much from the changeover. Another viewing when Ed has returned would be interesting, but for now we were happy with the cast we saw.

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Macbeth – May 2018

Experience: 6/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Rufus Norris

Venue: Olivier Theatre

Date: Tuesday 1st May 2018

We had read a few snippets about this production, as well as hearing comments from several friends, so we kept our expectations low when we took our seats for this performance. And as so often happens, that helped us to enjoy the good bits of this performance while not being distracted too much by the rubbish stuff, and when I say ‘rubbish’, you can take that literally. When the National wants to show the excesses of our materialistic, throwaway society, as in the Simon Russell Beale Timon several years ago, they do it in style. Well, there’s a lot of the Olivier stage to fill with something – might as well be bin bags.

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Romeo and Juliet – April 2018

Experience: 5/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Erica Whyman

Venue: RST

Date: Wednesday 25th April 2018

The stories of A View From The Bridge and Romeo and Juliet may have strong similarities, but there was no comparison between last night’s performance of the former and today’s offering of the latter. Last night: strong performances, plenty of tension and an enthralled audience which included many young people. Tonight, the younger audience members were impressed, to judge by the response, but we felt the production was patchy. It’s an early performance, of course, and we would expect the cast to get stronger as the run goes on, but whether we get anything more out of a second viewing remains to be seen.

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Macbeth – March 2018

Experience: 6/10

By William Shakespeare

Company: Tobacco Factory Theatres

Director: Adele Thomas

Venue: Tobacco Factory

Date: Tuesday 6th March 2018

This is the first Shakespeare production by the Tobacco Factory Theatres Company. It fills the slot previously occupied by the Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory company (STF), who are now doing their productions in the autumn, but our main reason for wanting to see this particular Macbeth was the advance information we got last year at the RSC’s Summer School that Katy Stephens would be playing Lady Macbeth! Made this a must-see.

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