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NEWS: Dominic Dromgoole announces his final season at Shakespeare’s Globe

In London theatre, News, Plays, Press Releases by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

Dominic Dromgoole’s final season as Artistic Director For the first time, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse will host Shakespeare as part of the main season: Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest Eileen Atkins returning with her critically-acclaimed Ellen Terry with Eileen Atkins Shakespeare’s Globe is delighted to announce Dominic Dromgoole’s final season as Artistic Director. For the first time, …

AS YOU LIKE IT – Shakespeare’s Globe

In London theatre, Plays, Reviews by Matt MerrittLeave a Comment

As You Like It is one of Shakespeare’s most divisive plays, critics and audiences seem to either love or hate it with little middle ground. It seems to be a favourite of Shakespeare’s Globe too, this being their third production in the last six years.

I arrived with high hopes, Blanche McIntyre’s Comedy of Errors last year was a sublime slapstick, but the jokes here are more subtle, coming from deft wordplay. Nonetheless McIntyre squeezes some great physical gags (and even a tap routine) into proceedings without overshadowing the zinging one-liners and rapid fire banter.

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE – Shakespeare’s Globe

In London theatre, Plays, Reviews by Matt MerrittLeave a Comment

You could be forgiven, if you didn’t know The Merchant of Venice well, for believing it to be a tragedy and more so for thinking Shylock is one of Shakespeare’s most caricature villains. Thankfully, Jonathan Munby directs with flair, amping up the comedy without losing even a hint of pathos in what may already be the highlight of Shakespeare’s Globe’s summer season.

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE – Shakespeare’s Globe

In London theatre, Plays, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

Shakespeare’s Globe, London
*****
Written by William ShakespeareDirected by Jonathan Munby

Phoebe Pryce and Jonathan Pryce
Jonathan Munby’s production of The Merchant Of Venice at Shakespeare’s Globe is likely to prove a long remembered classic. The staging offers an interaction with the groundlings that defines the raison d’être of this remarkable venue and with some of the Bard’s finest verse bestowed upon both Shylock and Portia, Jonathan Pryce and Rachel Pickup respectively provide a masterclass in English poetry. 
It can be all too easy to forget that The Merchant Of Venice is one of Shakespeare’s comedies. Munby’s production however makes much wonderfully timed merriment, with Stefan Adegbola’s Launcelot Gobbo putting on a class act that is as much Vaudeville stand up as it is classic Elizabethan drama. Elsewhere, David Sturzaker’s drunken Gratiano and Dorothea Myer-Bennett as Nerissa make for excellent comic foils.
The design of both costume and stage is gorgeous. The dress is of the period, with the Venetian masked Carnevale a prominent theme. Designer Mike Britton’s Belmont is suggested magnificently by drapes of burnished gauze that billow in the Southwark breeze, cleverly catching the light and evoking a modest understatement to the wealth of Portia’s estate 
So much for the hilarity, there is heartbreak too – and in the most complex of parent-child dilemmas, Pryce wrestles with the demands of his Jewish faith as daughter Jessica spurns both father and tradition for her gentile lover, Ben Lamb’s Lorenzo. That Jessica is played by Pryce’s real life daughter Phoebe (who eschewing any whiff of nepotistic stunt-casting, more than earns her stripes) only adds to the moments of emotional devastation hurled at us. 
Much too is made of Bassanio’s bisexuality as Daniel Lapaine and Dominic Mafham’s Antonio the eponymous Merchant, make frequent references to their past love. Away from the comedy again, Munby spotlights Portia’s anguish as she comes to realise her new husband’s sexual history, making for another neat and credible shot of pain.
Throughout, Munby’s work is nothing short of visionary. His Princes of Morroco and Arragon (Scott Karim and Christopher Logan respectively) are stereotyped caricatures – indeed Karim’s Arabic creation could be straight out of Disney’s Aladdin. But Munby knows just when to ease off too. Whilst his Princes may be buffoons, there is no hint of grotesque Jewish caricature to Shylock, with the director letting the evil of the play’s prejudice speak for itself.
Whilst Shakespeare’s original English text is respected, Munby takes brave linguistic licence elsewhere. Shylock and Jessica converse in Yiddish behind closed doors, whilst a devastating epilogue sees the now proselytised Jewess lament in Hebrew, whilst her father is subject to the full baptismal onslaught of a Catholic Latin liturgy.
But the heartbeat of this production lies in its devastating depiction of racist hatred. Shylock speaks of having been and is, spat upon. The courtroom scene is imbued with a lynch-mob menace that bays for the Jew’s blood. Whilst his desire for murderous vengeance can never be condoned, this production more than most, speaks clearly of the lifetime of abuse that the old money-lender has endured.
In what is likely to prove one of the capital’s stand out Shakespeare plays of the year, Pryce’s performance dominates and devastates. We share the pain of his yelp as his skullcap is brutally removed, realising more than anything else that the prejudices of 17th century Venice were barely different from those of Hitler’s Berlin in the 1930s. And when we read today of the barbarity wreaked upon Iraq’s Yazidis and upon many of Africa’s Christian communities, we can only weep at Shakespeare’s timeless wisdom.

Runs until 7th June
Image by Manuel Harlan

My theatre diary: Dramas Taken at Midnight, The Changeling, Out of the Cage and The Separation

In London theatre, Opinion, Photos, Plays, Reviews by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

The infinite variety of theatre in London means you can be laughing at the theatre one night, crying the next night. Or, when it’s really powerful, alternating between both on the same night. In my companion Theatre Diary piece, I shared some of the comedies I’ve enjoyed recently. Now I turn to the top-notch drama […]

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Podcast: AYULTP looks back on #theatre2014 discoveries including the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

In Audio, London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

After perusing so many other people’s year-end, best of lists, and compiling a few of mine, I hugely enjoyed taking part in the “As Yet Unnamed London Theatre Podcast” (cunningly named) comprehensive #theatre2014 review of the year discussion. These guys – TRP Watson, Gareth James, Phil from West End Whingers and Shakespeare lecturer Julie Raby – are […]

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Charting The Stage 100: Who are theatre’s biggest influencers and why?

In Awards, Features, London theatre, News, Opinion, Regional theatre by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

In this new year gorgefest of lists, The Stage‘s annually compiled Stage 100 of the top influencers in theatre takes the cake. Launched in January 1997, The Stage 100 is now in its 19th year and always makes for fascinating reading – and, I’m sure, lots of behind the scenes disagreements on risers, fallers, inclusions and omissions. […]

My theatre diary: ‘Tis Pity, Made in Dagenham, East Is East and Neville’s Island

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Photos, Plays, Reviews by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

I’m playing catch-up. Here are four shows I caught before my turkey-filled escape to the States last week for Thanksgiving. All of which serve up entertaining evenings in the theatre. As usual, I’ve listed them in closing date order. Don’t delay with the first in particular, as it finishes its limited season in a week. […]

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My theatre diary: From tears to laughter with The Crucible, The Events, Invincible and Shakespeare in Love

In Features, London theatre, Opinion, Photos, Plays, Reviews by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

I’m really doing well for play choices in July. Don’t let the warm weather put you off catching these compelling productions, which scale great heights and depths of emotion. (Apart from the entertainment, most of these theatres were lovely and cool on the hot summer evenings I attended. So you’ll get a respite from the […]

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Hey, Ms Producer! Sonia Friedman leads the growing ranks of female producers

In Broadway, Features, Interviews, London theatre, Musicals, News, Opinion, Plays by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

Maybe it’s because I’m considering trying my own hand at producing and the universe is sending me encouragement, but everywhere I look at the moment, I see female producers. On Sunday night, the powerhouse that is Sonia Friedman takes another shot at Tony Awards glory in New York, where her transfers of the Shakespeare’s Globe […]

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Never mind Titus: The West End is awash with blood

In Features, Interviews, Opinion, Plays by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

There’s been a lot of media attention around the Globe’s Titus Andronicus. Once again, Lucy Bailey’s production – which starred Douglas Hodge in its first 2006 outing and now has William Houston in the title role – has got audiences fainting on Bankside. Titus, with the strapline “brutality of the highest order”, is an extreme example […]

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Tony trivia: Twelfth Night is officially a history play

In Awards, Broadway, Features, London theatre, News, Opinion, Plays by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

Twelfth Night is generally classified as one of Shakespeare’s comedies, but last week it officially became a history play as well, after its phenomenal haul in this year’s Tony Awards nominations. Mark Rylance is already something of a Tony legend. He has won Best Actor twice for two other London transfers –1960s farce Boeing-Boeing in […]