Who will believe thee, Isabelle?
Bear with me, gentle reader, as I try to do something a little different in this review of the Donmar Warehouse production of Measure for Measure. You can take it as read that the staging, lighting, music and so on were all as excellent as you might expect, and I’ll probably get to the performances in due course. But this production was clearly designed to make a bold statement about gender and power imbalances, and that’s an area in which it is impossible as a woman not have an interest.
The Young Vic Theatre
Photo by Johan Persson
It can sometimes be more difficult to review a show you didn’t like than one you – just repeating “I loved it” four hundred times might feel proportionate but not very informative for the reader. Lucky, then, that the Young Vic’s musical Twelfth Night was both brilliant and surprisingly meaty.
RSC at the Barbican
So I deliberately chose to see the two big-hitting Macbeths this year (the RSC and the National) to see what there was by way of a contrast, and on reflection it feels to me that maybe contrasts was what this production was all about.
I hadn’t felt up to tackling another Lear after the National’s electrifying production with Simon Russell Beale, all the way back in 2014*. But having heard so many good things about other Chichester Festival productions, and being a bit of an Ian McKellen fan, I decided this was a production I couldn’t, or maybe shouldn’t, miss.**
Antic Disposition – Grays Inn Hall
Photograph by Scott Rylander
Ah Much Ado. This was my fifth production in five years and it was every bit as enjoyable as all the others – no sign of fun-fatigue in the same way I think I might be getting misery-and-ambition fatigue (and still one more Macbeth to go this year, oh Lord!)
This was an Antic Disposition production in Grays Inn Hall, with an Anglo-French flavour similar to Henry V but luckily not at all harrowing. It was WW2, rather than WW1, which definitely helps. Messina was a town square, complete with bunting and tables (and an onstage bar which sold drinks – but only during the interval!). We saw the first night which came with the minor additional excitement of power cuts taking out the stage lights, and we were sat at a table in the bar, right in the action.
I was back at the Globe for the hottest day of the year thus far, a strange contrast with the first Othello I saw, back on a damp and mizzy February day – the only link being that both were in Shakespearean venues. It was also my first time standing since the raising (and re-lowering) of the stage, and I’m happy to say that hanging off the edge is as glorious an experience as it used to be.
Ah summer. Whether you revel in the heat* or like to sit indoors, wilting slightly, it is undeniably a different experience from the wintry wasteland we Englanders saw only in March.