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.
Iris Theatre (St Paul’s Covent Garden)
The great thing about Iris Theatre productions is you are always transported away from where you are. The Tempest managed to take us – despite the dirt and noise of a London summer (complete with World Cup matches) – to somewhere infinitely more magical.
Well after today I have to get on the football bandwagon really don’t I?