Drunkenness is his best virtue

In fact, the closest I got to champagne was pink prosecco...

In fact, the closest I got to champagne was pink prosecco…

Well, it’s Christmas and I had a bit of a heavy week last week. Turns out I can’t do four nights on the trot with a heavy cold. Not that I ever thought I could, it was kind of unavoidable, but now I have definite proof…

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It’s called *the* Scottish play, because there are no others…


The Penny Dreadfuls’ alternative history of Macbeth (broadcast on Radio 4 on Saturday 13th December) is absolutely hilarious – it’s more about righting the wrongs of Shakespeare’s idiosyncratic history (and how everyone thinks it’s accurate!) than about being a direct parody, but the porter, and a witch, do make appearances. And, mainly, it’s brilliant. My favourite line is:

“I love a wedding. Everyone looks smart and a woman gets traded. It so romantic.”

I think this link will work worldwide, the BBC are pretty generous like that…

The Winter’s Tale


12th December 2014

Another unusual venue, this one – The Lion and Unicorn Theatre, which is situated above a pub in Kentish Town. And when I say above a pub I means this very literally – when the show’s about to start, a bell rings, a door in the wall of the pub opens, and the audience goes up to a space above the main bar.* As you might therefore expect, this means it is a very intimate space – more a studio than a grand theatre, and with little in the way of set (but a seemingly pretty fancy light rig).

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He speaks at random III – Like a true drunkard


I am very frustrated because there’s a Shakespeare production I really really want to see but I can’t make it! The Speigeltent in Victoria Park is hosting Sh*t-faced Shakespeare – a show where a professional troupe put on a Shakespeare play – with the twist that one of the actors really, genuinely, gets drunk on stage. (Apparently they pick the cast member at random each night, and hopefully thereby prevent permanent liver damage…)

They are doing Two Gentlemen of Verona (going back to the beginning!) and I’d love to go. I’ll just have to wait til they put it on sometime I can make it, and in the meantime just leave this link lying about somewhere in case anyone else wants to pick it up…




25th November 2014

A non-traditional production this – billed as an “outdoor/indoor promenade performance” on Clapham Common and in the Omnibus arts centre, we took in paths (and confused joggers), paddling pools (mercifully drained) and a variety of rooms with wonderfully minimalist sets (I do wonder if they’ll ever get all the leaf-dust out of the carpet…).

To be fair, it doesn't say "No secret, black, and midnight hags"...

To be fair, it doesn’t say “No secret, black, and midnight hags”…

I keep on re-writing this review because I can’t seem to get my feelings across right – every time I write it, it sounds like I didn’t enjoy the show, and I really did! I thought it was intelligently acted and directed, making great use of an unusual set of spaces. I though the cast were cracking and really got to grips to with the language. Yes, some parts of the speeches early on got lost in the Common, but that was hardly unexpected, and anyone who doesn’t know what happens at the beginning of Macbeth is (1) unlikely to be going to a performance in Clapham Common and (2) can probably pick it up from what happens later on anyway.

The general mood was reminiscent of the James McAvoy version in 2012 – faintly futuristic dystopian, lots of knitwear and cargo trousers. Apparently this was a coincidence – my sister was talking to the producer afterwards and she said she hadn’t seen it – and the story does lend itself to the bleak, vaguely modern outlook – after all, the only scenes we see are blasted heaths and castles… And maybe it was the fact I had seen that production so recently (well, in the last three years) that meant I didn’t quite get fully into this one – I seemed always to be waiting for the bits I knew were coming up rather than losing myself in the moment.

The cast was small – there was a certain amount of doubling up of roles, which I am childish enough to admit always gives me the giggles, particularly when Banquo turned back up as Seyton to tell Macbeth that his wife was dead. If I were him, I’m not sure I would have believed it… There weren’t any famous names – nor even anyone I semi-remembered from an old TV show – which does rather bring home how unrewarding a profession acting must be when I think about how many people seem to be trying to make it professionally (and of course I only see the ones who are doing OK).

As I said above, I thought the cast were all – without exception – very good. The few nit-picks I had were: Lady Macbeth had an unhealthy obsession with showing anguish by kneeling on the floor (you can take physicality too far), you could almost hear the actor playing Macbeth thinking “here comes my great soliloquy, I’m going to act the shit out of it” – although to be fair he usually did, and I thought the girl playing Ross was a bit underused (but then she came across as very nice, which does make the casting in Macbeth somewhat of a challenge).

Some parts I thought worked absolutely brilliantly – the subtle use of different strobe lights to convey different parts of the castle (although an over-reliance on flickering lights as an indicator of drama did leave me with a headache). The subtly-played changing levels of attraction/sexual tension between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. The notion that Campari would be the only aperitif available – truly the end of the world…