Walking into this production, I was expecting approximately two things from the coverage I had seen – plenty of gender fluidity and northern accents*. It definitely delivered on both – as well as an engaging and witty production.
Do you know, I think back when I started this project I thought it might be a nice achievement to tick off, and I’d write a set of intellectual reviews to look back on and remember what I saw and when in greater detail than I would otherwise recall with the passage of years. And then I started writing* and emoting** and then the next thing you know, the whole world has gone very strange and you’re going to see Henry V when there is an actual war on.
So that’s my upfront, big message, OK? It is hard to enjoy Henry V when you know that as you sit in the theatre seeing people pretend to die in battle that Ukrainians and Russians are losing their lives and there’s a credible risk of nuclear war. Credit where credit is due – this was not a production that glorified either war or the people who made it happen, even if I’m not entirely sure what it was trying to be about.
Such excitement there was too about this show – two helicopters hovering overhead, and the Houses of Parliament even put on a firework display near the end. The chaos (both scripted and additional) was ably managed by a cast who were universally excellent at making themselves heard and felt*. Not only that, but they were naturally funny – managing to get a laugh out of the audience when urging us to buy programmes before the play had even begun – and Beatrice’s corpsing when Benedick stopped mid-scene was entirely forgiveable, and didn’t hold the action up since we were waiting for that damn helicopter to move off in any case.
What a year (and a bit) it’s been. I have tickets booked for an actual play in an actual theatre for the first time in – ooh – eighteen months? And the hope that that might actually happen has made me realise that I have been hanging on to reviews of the few shows I did get to in 2020 for far too long – so here they are, if somewhat truncated!
This is my first proper Taming of the Shrew – it’s pretty rare, six years in, that I manage to get a new play, so there is that*. Still, it has big, massive boots to fill in terms of telling the story of 10 Things I Hate About You. If you know a better modern Shakespeare adaptation tell me**.
Another year, another Much Ado. Yay! And I was particularly thrilled to be catching a production from the Shakespeare Tobacco Factory, a Bristol-based company about whom I have repeatedly heard excellent things but have never managed to see “in the wild” as it were.
Oh my giddy aunt. I have had a most rare vision, past the wit of man to say – except that that’s the job I’ve set myself! It was a wonderful shared vision too – the delight of promenading at the Bridge Theatre (not lessened over time) is at least partially in its communality.