Review: As You Like It / Hamlet, Shakespeare’s Globe

Michelle Terry arrives as Shakespeare’s Globe’s new Artistic Director with a delightfully comic As You Like It and a sombre Hamlet

We know what we are, but know not what we may be

After Emma Rice’s promises to ‘rock the ground’ found little purchase with the board at Shakespeare’s Globe, it’s fair to say there have been a few people holding their breath with incoming Artistic Director Michelle Terry’s debut season about to start. One of our finest Shakespeareans, she’s placed the actor at the heart of her programming, which opens with the Globe Ensemble performing As You Like It and Hamlet in rep.

And not to belabour the point, but the difference does feel like the gap between someone who sees Shakespeare as a challenge and someone who sees it an opportunity. Terry’s approach may be less ostentatious but it feels no less quietly radical in flexibility to gender, race, disability and more. Across the two productions it provides some blissful and thought-provoking  moments that feel quietly revolutionary. Continue reading “Review: As You Like It / Hamlet, Shakespeare’s Globe”

Cast and creatives for The Globe Ensemble’s As You Like It

Catrin Aaron – Phoebe
Yarit Dor – Fight Director
James Garnon – Audrey
Federay Holmes – Director
Colin Hurley – Touchstone
Bettrys Jones – Orlando
Richard Katz – Silvius
Jack Laskey – Rosalind
James Maloney – Composer
Nadia Nadarajah – Celia
Ellan Parry – Designer
Pearce Quigley – Jaques
Shubham Saraf – Oliver
Helen Schlesinger – Duke Frederick
Michelle Terry – Adam
Elle While – Director
Siân Williams – Choreographer
Tanika Yearwood – Amiens

Cast and creatives for The Globe Ensemble’s Hamlet

Catrin Aaron – Horatio
Yarit Dor – Fight Director
James Garnon – Claudius
Federay Holmes – Director
Colin Hurley – Ghost
Bettrys Jones – Laertes
Richard Katz – Polonius
Jack Laskey – Fortinbras
James Maloney – Composer
Nadia Nadarajah – Guildenstern
Ellan Parry – Designer
Pearce Quigley – Rosencrantz
Shubham Saraf – Ophelia
Helen Schlesinger – Gertrude
Michelle Terry – Hamlet
Elle While – Director
Siân Williams – Choreographer
Tanika Yearwood – Marcellus

Round-up of news, treats and other interesting things

You go away for a week, hoping they’ll put any exciting news on hold but no, there were headlines aplenty…

Michelle Terry being revealed as Emma Rice’s successor as Artistic Director of the Globe. I think this is a brave and inspired choice, for Terry is a deeply intelligent actor (Tribes, Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, Cleansed) and a superb Shakespearean at that (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, The Comedy of Errors).

Rice seemed to consider Shakespeare a puzzle that needed unlocking for (new) audiences but you were left wondering if there was a touch of square peg round hole syndrome in the way the plays were manhandled. It is tempting to think that Terry will be a smoother fit whilst maintaining a sense of adventurousness (she played Henry V after all) although this is, of course, pure conjecture. Still, exciting times ahead.


Bristol Old Vic’s production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night, featuring a superlative performance from Lesley Manville alongside Jeremy Irons, has at long last announced its transfer into the West End. It was one of my highlights from last year and takes up residence in the Wyndham’s from 27th January until 8th April.

As with Alan Ayckbourn, my lack of desire to see Oscar Wilde plays on the stage is often tested by casting decisions that I find hard to resist. Adding Anne Reid to Eve Best in A Woman of No Importance is one of those decisions.


The Bush Theatre are having a busy time of it. Not only is Jon Gilchrsit stepping down as Executive Director, they’ve announced casting for two of their upcoming productions.

Ramona Tells Jim
Written by Sophie Wu
Directed by Mel Hillyard
Designed by Lucy Sierra
Cast includes: Ruby Bentall (Ramona), Joe Bannister (Jim) and Amy Lennox (Pocahontas).

A Bush Theatre and Sheffield Theatres co-production
Of Kith and Kin
Written by Chris Thompson
Directed by Robert Hastie
Designed by James Perkins
Cast includes: Joanna Bacon (Lydia and Carrie), Donna Berlin (Arabelle), James Lance (Daniel), Chetna Pandya (Priya) and Joshua Silver (Oliver).


Get a look here at the cast for The Unknown Island, a world premiere directed by the Gate’s new Artistic Director Ellen McDougall and adapted by Ellen and Clare Slater (Literary Manager, Donmar Warehouse) from Jose Saramago’s short story The Tale of The Unknown Island.

The Unknown Island is a play about getting stuck, about trying to escape, about shooting for the moon, about going further than the furthest thing. This is a play about finding something you didn’t think you needed.

The Gate welcomes back Jon Foster (Idomeneus, Trojan Women) and introduce Thalissa Teixera (Othello, Shakespeare’s Globe and Yerma, Young Vic), Hannah Ringham (co-founder of SHUNT) and Zubin Varla (War Horse, National Theatre and Twelfth Night, Donmar Warehouse).


And to round things off, the ever-lovely Amy Booth-Steel doing something lovely to the song ‘Despacito’ on a ukelele.

Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things

In Bechdel Testing LifeBechdel Theatre presents four short plays by Isley Lynn, Rabiah Hussain, Guleraana Mir, and Lizzie Milton. Each play is inspired by a real-life conversation between women.
 
The Experiment:
Inspired by the famous Bechdel Test, which asks: “Are there two female characters? Do they talk to each other? About something other than a man?”, women were asked to record their own conversations with each other – to pass the Bechdel Test in real life.
 
Their recordings were then given to a team of fantastic female playwrights.
 
The Result:
Four new plays exploring the relationships that make up our daily lives but are less often represented in fiction.
 
Bechdel Testing Life is a celebration of the complex, intimate, hilarious, and genius conversations that take place when women get together. It plays at the Bunker Theatre on 22nd and 23rd July.

Continue reading “Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things”

2017 What’s On Stage Award nominations

Best Actor in a Play, sponsored by Radisson Blu Edwardian
Ian Hallard for The Boys in the Band
Ian McKellen for No Man’s Land
Jamie Parker for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child 
Kenneth Branagh for The Entertainer
Ralph Fiennes for Richard III

Best Actress in a Play, sponsored by Live at Zédel 
Billie Piper for Yerma 
Helen McCrory for The Deep Blue Sea
Lily James for Romeo and Juliet
Michelle Terry for Henry V
Pixie Lott for Breakfast at Tiffany’s Continue reading “2017 What’s On Stage Award nominations”

The Complete Walk, from the comfort of your sofa #10

“Come, sit on me”

The Taming of the Shrew

Christopher Haydon takes Eve Best and John Light over to the Villa Businello-Morassutti in Padua, to make me sure that the world is in need of a proper production of the Best/Light Shrew as they spar achingly, beautifully, with each other. Toby Frow’s rambunctious 2012 production also comes up a treat with Samantha Spiro and Simon Paisley Day equally impressing.

The Winter’s Tale

And another, with Michelle Terry directing an almost painfully raw performance from Mariah Gale in Apothecaries Hall, her wounded Hermione breathtakingly good, especially with the strong contrast of the vibrant Yoruba production from the Globe II Globe festival.



As You Like It

A curiously low-key take here as Bryan Dick’s Touchstone and Marty Cruickshank’s Corin wander Belgium’s Ardennes Forest with a good deal more time devoted to the clips, in this case from Thea Sharrock’s interpretation of the play from 2009, with a stellar Naomi Frederick and Laura Rogers riding roughshod over Jack Laskey.

The Complete Walk, from the comfort of your sofa #7

Love’s Labour’s Lost

Gemma Arterton and Michelle Terry (almost) in the same play, how my heart doth beat. Sam Yates’ Love’s Labour’s Lost combines Arterton and David Dawson dashing delightfully through the corridors of the Royal Palace of Olite of Navarre, Spain as Berowne and Rosaline, whilst drawing in elements from the gorgeous 2009 production at the Globe – one of my favourite clips from the whole Complete Walk.
Measure for Measure

Queer as Folk hits Austria (I suppose I’m showing my age, the more contemporary reference would be Game of Thrones) as Aidan Gillen takes on Measure for Measure at Vienna’s Burg Liechtenstein. Last year’s production at the Globe gets a look in too and reminds me that I think it was much maligned for trying a more comic take on the play for once. 

The Two Gentleman of Verona

A slightly different take from Christopher Haydon here as he has location footage – filmed at the Scaligero di Torri, Verona with Meera Syal and Tamara Lawrance – but opts to explore the play’s dramatic links to the rest of the canon. So we get clips of 10 of Shakespeare’s other plays and are shown how devices and plots are reused time and time again. 

Othello

Possibly one of my most favourite potential productions in the making here, as James Dacre takes David Harewood and John Heffernan to Othello’s Tower in Famagusta, Cyprus where they nail it. Please make this happen somehow.
Timon of Athens

Timon of Athens sees Dromgoole go for the similar star wattage of Dominic West in Coriolanus, opting to focus on Simon Russell Beale wandering through atmospheric parts of Athens with no other actors or productions to distract. And it works wonders again, even if I’m not sure I need to see the play again in a hurry. 

The Complete Walk, from the comfort of your sofa #5

“When we are born, we cry”

Entries #1, #2, #3 and #4 – and here’s number 5. 

Actually taking Lear to the White Cliffs of Dover seems like a good enough reason to mount the entire Complete Walk project if you ask me, and director Bill Buckhurst doesn’t disappoint. Belaris Free Festival’s interpretation gets a wee whirl before we move to Kent where Kenneth Cranham’s disoriented monarch comes across powerfully in jerky jump-cuts and voiceover and then ultimately powerful soliloquy. Skipping to the end of the play, Joseph Marcell then takes on Lear for a sensationally powerful reunion with Zawe Ashton’s deeply considered Cordelia.


I must confess I do find it hard to get excited about King John and despite a huge affection for the much-missed Trystan Gravelle, I saw nothing here to change my mind. Filmed at Northampton’s Holy Sepulchre church, with inserts that acted almost as a Shakespearean documentary in covering the death of Shakespeare’s son at the time of writing the play, this one just didn’t do it for me I’m afraid.


Philip Cumbus’ anguished Clarence in his cell; Prasanna Puwanarajah and Paul Ready giving subtly comic life to the murderers on his way to him; Clare Higgins’ Margaret looming ominously in the shadows, Michelle Terry’s (for yes, she directs too!) take on Richard III uses all the shadowy sinister atmosphere of the Tower of London to capture the mood of the play rather successfully. It is contrasted with a silent film version which is amusing to watch at first but spookily effective in the end in the way it portrays Richard’s climactic dream. (NB: click on the title for the full clip.) 

The Complete Walk, from the comfort of your sofa #4

“Come now, what masques”

With 37 films to work through and no need to do them all in one weekend as the Complete Walk was originally designed, I’m rather enjoying working my merry way through them at my own pace. First, second and third sets of film can be found here. 

Given how many Dreams I’ve seen this year, it’s a little surprising that A Midsummer Night’s Dream can still surprise me but such is the enduring beauty of the play. Nikki Amuka-Bird and David Caves take on Hippolyta and Theseus in the stately surrounding of Wilton House in the English countryside in Wiltshire, done with a romance here by Rebecca Gatward that is rarely seen these days. The flip to the brilliantly feisty pairing of John Light and Michelle Terry’s Oberon and Titania (from the 2013 Globe version which ranks as myall-time favourite) is vibrant, but it’s gorgeous to go back to the further developing of an unexpected tenderness between two characters who rarely receive it. A snippet of Pearce Quigley‘s Bottom is a bonus but it is Caves and Amuka-Bird who are the bees knees here.

Going to the ruins of Juliet’s Tomb itself (‘twas a room in a monastery) in Verona, and constantly switching with a second location (perhaps said room in a modern setting), Dromgoole’s Romeo and Juliet becomes extraordinarily powerful. Jessie Buckley’s final speech is just heartbreaking, really quite hauntingly affecting. Luke Thompson’s Romeo doesn’t quite hit the same heights but it’s still a beautiful encapsulation of the play.

Re-uniting father and daughter Jonathan and Phoebe Pryce from Jonathan Munby’s achingly moving production at the Globe in 2015, this rendering of The Merchant of Venice has the special opportunity of carrying its main actor from the staged to the filmed version, also by Munby. The swaggering demands of Dominic Mafham’s Antonio give way to the quiet confrontation between Shylock and a soon-to-depart Jessica, given real piquancy by being filmed in The Jewish Ghetto in Venice. Munby then goes for the greatest hits of the play, fitting in the ‘Hath not a Jew eyes’ and then Portia’s ‘quality of mercy’, but it is the subtle interplay between father and daughter in the Venetian half-light that sticks in the mind.