The Merry Wives of Windsor

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Streatham Common

As far as I knew it, the plot of The Merry Wives was (to paraphrase Elizabeth I) laughs and a bit with a box. Falstaff and some wives? Of Windsor? Who are merry? Well, none of that is an inaccurate description for a play that is even more frothy than Twelfth Night and more contrived than Cymbeline…

FirstFolioMerryWives

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No offense i’ th’ world

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Well, a bit of a storm blew up this weekend when it emerged that Shakespeare in the Park, a venerable New York institution which has been putting on productions in Central Park since the 1950s, is this year staging Julius Caesar in modern dress with a titular character who is blonde, has an eastern European wife, and (no spoiler to anyone who knows the play) get assassinated.

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The Winter’s Tale (2)

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Barbican – Silk Street Theatre

A WINTER’S TALE

Photo by Johan Persson

This production was by Cheek by Jowl, a company known for the strength of their ensemble casts*, their international tours (and producing plays in a number of languages) and for their production of The Winter’s Tale which has been on in St Petersburg for 20 years. This is not that production.

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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

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Old Vic

I was delighted that (thanks to the Gods of the Almeida and the Old Vic) I could go and see this almost (but not quite) in repertory with Hamlet, even more pleased that I could get the order right* and then, somewhat perversely given point number one, also delighted that this was an extreme staging contrast with the Almeida’s Hamlet.

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