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MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING – ReFASHIONed Theatre, Selfridges

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Emma ClarendonLeave a Comment

The Faction’s production of Shakespeare’s comedy is sharp, stylish and straightforward – with some sparkling performances. There is no doubting that The Faction’s production of Shakespeare’s best comedy has plenty to make the audience laugh at, but there are occasional moments when it feels more chaotic that can make it difficult to follow.

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RICHARD III – Lion & Unicorn Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Emma ClarendonLeave a Comment

From the second that audience members step into the intimate space of the Lion and Unicorn Theatre, they automatically realise that what they are about to see and participate in, is something that is refreshing and unique. On entering the auditorium, members of the audience are given name tags of the character that they are about to ‘play’ in the show, which very much emphasises Richard III’s changing attitudes towards the characters.

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KING LEAR – Manchester & Birmingham

In Manchester, Opinion, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews, Touring by Kristy StottLeave a Comment

Talawa Theatre Company has been making theatre since 1986 and to mark their 30th anniversary year, and to commemorate 400 years since Shakespeare’s death artistic director Michael Buffong returns to the play he first directed in 1994, King Lear. In this co-production between Talawa Theatre, Manchester’s Royal Exchange and Birmingham Rep, Don Warrington steps into the royal breaches and takes on the title role.

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MACBETH – Manchester

In London theatre, Manchester, Opinion, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews, Touring by Kristy StottLeave a Comment

Directed by Carrie Cracknell and Lucy Guerin, this production – starring John Heffernan and Anna Maxwell Martin – is startlingly different to any other versions of Macbeth I have seen before. It’s a highly visual production which explores main themes of Macbeth’s breakdown and the supernatural through a fusion of Shakespeare’s original words and stunning choreography.

RICHARD II – Shakespeare’s Globe

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

Richard II is one of Shakespeare’s great treats and, for
this writer at least, contains some of his most beautiful writing as well as
one of the more fascinating storylines in the canon. Somehow though, this is my
first experience of seeing it performed live. I’ll confess to having trouble picturing
Charles Edwards as Richard.  I’ve always enjoyed Edwards’ work but this is
a little bit different to his recent roles.

Thankfully I was wrong (and not for the first time) to be
concerned! We’ve seen petulant Richards, childlike Richards and recently Ben
Whishaw’s ethereal monarch in the BBC’s majestic Hollow Crown series. Edwards gives us Richard the bon-vivant, letting
loose with sardonic asides that his pandering courtiers fall over themselves to
laugh at. He’s lost in his own world and thinks himself hilarious, making his
eventual fall all the more harrowing. When he realises he is lost and bids his
followers sit with him and tell stories of former kings it’s harrowing,
especially when, with a lost look on his face he reaches out and clutches the
hand of an audience member.

David Sturzaker,
who shone earlier this year as Gratiano in Shakespeare’s
Globe
’s Merchant of Venice is excellent as Bolingbroke, merciless in the
face of those who wrong him he nevertheless seems reluctant to take power until
he realises it is his only choice.

Director Simon Godwin
balances the humour and the sorrow well, taking pains to ensure that the
funnier lines hit home. Sadly the dramatic moments fall a little flat as
several of the cast seem hell bent on reducing the running time by gabbling
through their lines as if they might miss their train home. The exception is William Gaunt who delivers his namesake’s
fervent elegy to his homeland as a masterclass in understated grief.

Gaunt’s passionate dismissal of Richard “Live in thy shame, but die not
shame with thee!

cuts like a knife and still rings in the ears when the former sovereign meets
his end.

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THE TEMPEST – Hope Theatre

In London theatre, Plays, Reviews by Caroline Hanks-FarmerLeave a Comment

Not only can Shakespeare be considered to be England’s greatest playwright, he is probably the most prolific when it comes to performances of his work. The plays are amazingly flexible in the many ways they can be stage and the latest production of “The Tempest” at The Hope Theatre by the Thick as Thieves Production company is a lovely case in point.