Out of Water, a new play about gender, regional and professional identity, rides the crest of the feelgood factor.
Two days after Shakespeare’s birthday (23 April), I’ll still be celebrating the bard myself as I make my Royal Shakespeare Company ‘debut’ chairing a panel discussion in Stratford-upon-Avon connected with their new production of The Taming of the Shrew.
Stories rule in the RSC’s brilliant production of Matilda The Musical in an adaptation which feels properly true to the spirit of its Roald Dahl original – complete with dangerous spikes and revolting children.
The Merry Wives of Windsor is often looked-down-upon as a casual piece of throwaway entertainment lacking substance or serious intent, with little for scholars to get their teeth into. However, this is a play whose time is surely coming again.
Returning to the RSC and the Barbican for The Merry Wives of Windsor after his triumph in Titus Andronicus last year is David Troughton as the drunken and self-proclaimed womaniser, Falstaff, his caricaturesque performance mirroring the cartoony nature of the plot, characters, script and direction.
This is a Macbeth that emphasises the psychological horror of the story. It is a brutal and murderous play, but priority is given to the effects of the violence rather than the violence itself.
David Edgar’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol, directed as last year by Rachel Kavanaugh, gives the old story of ghosts and redemption deft additions and expanded scenes
As a parable of the apparent inadequacy of legend in a real world, the RSC’s Don Quixote it is timeless and matchless.
In James Fenton’s adaptation of Cervantes’ 17th-century classic, the fabled antics of Knight Errant Don Quixote are given a contemporary understanding that still preserves the original’s richness.
It’s taken two years for the RSC’s hit Don Quixote to make it to the West End with David Threlfall and Rufus Hound reprising their roles as the hapless knight errant and his squire.
Romeo & Juliet, with Karen Fishwick and Bally Gill as the leads, arrives at the Barbican as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s London residency. Although written over four centuries ago, this production feels chillingly relevant.
It’s sometimes a little difficult to take seriously how old everyone is meant to be in Romeo & Juliet but Erica Whyman’s modern-day production for the RSC, playing in rep now at the Barbican, never lets you forget.
So what can be done to make Shakespeare less boring, or prove that Shakespeare isn’t boring (depending on how you look at it)? It does feel to me that we’re in the middle of a golden age of Shakespeare productions.
This Macbeth should be an absolute blinder with such a strong and perfectly brooding lead… but unfortunately, the production falls a little flat in pivotal places.
Overall it is a beautiful re-telling of Macbeth, keeping true to the script but taking a twist on a unique element. Macbeth at the Barbican is not to be missed.
Tamburlaine at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon brings the wonder and the terror of Marlowe’s shepherd emperor to life in a production that gives an almost faultless account of a defective but fascinating play.
Despite a cast including Christopher Eccleston and Niamh Cusack, this proves another disappointment of a Macbeth as the RSC starts is autumn residency at the Barbican.
Is it ironic that the most emotionally powerful scene of the RSC’s Macbeth at the Barbican comes in a rare moment of silence and stillness, a scene when the Macbeths are nowhere to be seen?
In contrast to Rufus Norris’ Macbeth at the National, with Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff, the RSC’s current production is focused and direct. This ensures that it is more of a success, but also proves its weakness. Polly Findlay’s production is certainly the more coherent and features strong leads.
I used to love visiting schools. Having taught for many years in secondary schools myself and visited, in various capacities, literally hundreds since I became first a part-time and then a full-time journalist, I always felt a real homecoming affinity. Not any more.